Strategic Area I: Research and Development

The RCGFS makes full use of the diverse disciplinary expertise across PolyU to create cross-disciplinary, synergistic collaborations in research and development. Our five research foci are

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 Senior Wellness

People generally live longer now than they have in the past, especially in developed economies. In Hong Kong, the life expectancies of men and women are 80 and 84 years, respectively. A person’s overall wellness is a major determinant of the quality of his or her later life. Wellness is accumulative and reflective of the different stages of an individual’s life course; therefore, the development and maintenance of wellness should start as early in life as possible. Wellness is a holistic and integrative concept, and the total wellness of older adults can be attained only when various aspects of their lives, including their health, habits, and lifestyle; interaction with living environments; knowledge and awareness; participation; and productivity and employability, are established and in harmony.

Current Research

  1. Instrument Development and Validation
  • Psychometric Validation of the Adult Sensory Profile, Activity Card Sort, Cohen-Mansfield Inventory of Agitation, Fuld Object Memory Evaluation, Well-Being Index
  1. Biostatistics
  1. Health Promotion
  • Promoting the Health and Well-being of Older Adults with Chronic Illnesses: A Coordinated Medical and Social Services Model
  • Early Detection of and Intervention in Depression among Older People: A Proactive Mental Health Promotion Programme
  • Building a Holistic and Continuous Health Care Programme for Older Adults with Chronic Illnesses
  • Health Promotion Through Physical Activity for Older Adults with Dementia
  1. Participation and Well-being
  • Participation and Late-life Cognitive Functioning
  • Participation and Well-being of Older Adults with Chronic Diseases Such as Stroke and Dementia
  1. Creation of a Health-related Database for Clinical Use
  • Early Detection Project (in collaboration with Hong Kong Alzheimer’s Disease Association)
  1. International Collaboration
  • Cognitive reserve (in collaboration with the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, Columbia University Medical Center, NY, USA)
  • Lifestyle and participation (in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, USA)

Research Directions

The RCGFS’s research focus on total wellness has two main directions: The first is to develop and validate an instrument that can measure the ‘total wellness index’ of older adults in Hong Kong. Alongside the development of the instrument, population-based studies on understanding of the different aspects of wellness in present and future cohorts of older adults will be conducted. The second direction is to capitalise on older people as crucial contributors to and assets of society. Volunteerism and prolonging employability for older people are two areas of investigation in this research direction.

Research Projects

Research project visualization 8Create A Knowledge Hub for Promoting Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity


Funded by ZeShan (H.K.) Foundation

Research project visualization 9Hong Kong - Vigilance and Memory Test (HKVMT) to Enhance Detection of Early Cognitive Impairments in Preclinical Phase


Funded by Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living

Research project visualization 10Positive Ageing and Happiness Courier


Funded by Wofoo Foundation

Ageing and Family

Population ageing trend and changes in family structure

By 2038, nearly one-third of Hong Kong’s population will be 65 years or older. Meanwhile, considerable changes in Hong Kong's family structure have occurred with the decline in birth rate. According to government statistics, a couple in Hong Kong has approximately 1.2 to 1.3 children on average, and the average family has approximately 2.7 members, indicating that there is a general increase in the number of older adults who live alone or the amount of intergenerational contact these older adults have with their adult children and grandchildren. Thus, older adults often lack grandparenting experience or opportunities to practice grandparent roles.

Importance of intergenerational relationships within family

Studies have suggested that the better the relationship between parents and their adult children, the greater their self-image and satisfaction with life are, which bespeaks that good intergenerational relationships can promote active and healthy ageing.

Intergenerational relationships also affect the care planning and arrangements of older people within families. Older people and their adult children often have low consensus on the valuation of care responsibilities for older people, reflecting a certain degree of intergenerational difference in current Hong Kong society. Given the decline in emotional intimacy between generations and the lack of consensus on values and attitudes, intergenerational conflicts are likely to occur, which are not conducive to the health and well-being of older people or to the creation of a harmonious family and society.

Research Directions

- Family relations and older people’s self-image, satisfaction with life and subjective well-being

- Intergenerational relationships and future care arrangements

- Intergenerational relationships and positive ageing

- Multigenerational unity and harmony

Research Projects

Research project visualization 11Enhancement of Positive Ageing, Family Relations, and Quality of Later Life


Funded by Research Matching Grant Scheme

Research project visualization 12Individual Efforts or Intergenerational Responses? A Longitudinal Mixed Methods Study of Future Care Planning Among Hong Kong Ageing Families


Funded by General Research Fund, Research Grant Council of Hong Kong

Research project visualization 13Gearing Up for Third Age and Multigenerational Capacity Building


Funded by Lee Kum Kee Family Foundation

Research project visualization 14Intergenerational Relationship Quality and Care Expectations of Ageing Parents in Hong Kong


Funded by General Research Fund Early Career Scheme, Research Grant Council of Hong Kong

Research project visualization 15Empowerment and Optimisation of Intergenerational Coparenting Mechanisms in Chinese Urban Families with 1–3-Year-Old Children


Funded by National Social Science Foundation of China


  1. Bai, X., & Liu, C. (2020). Financial strain and attitude toward retirement among aging Chinese adults: The influence of family. Family Relations69(5), 907-920.
  2. Bai, X., Li, Z., Chen, J., Liu, C., & Wu, X. (2020). Socioeconomic inequalities in mental distress and life satisfaction among older Chinese men and women: The role of family functioning. Health & Social Care in the Community28(4), 1270-1281.
  3. Bai, X., Lai, D. W., & Liu, C. (2020). Personal care expectations: Photovoices of Chinese ageing adults in Hong Kong. Health & Social Care in the Community28(3), 1071-1081. 
  4. Bai, X. (2019). Whom should I rely on for my future care? Patterns in care expectations and their intergenerational correlates among Hong Kong Chinese ageing adults. Health and Social Care in the Community, 27(1), 115–125.
  5. Bai X. (2019). Hong Kong Chinese aging adults voice financial care expectations in changing family and sociocultural contexts: implications for policy and services. Journal of aging & social policy31(5), 415–444.
  6. Bai, X. (2018). Development and validation of a multidimensional intergenerational relationship quality scale for aging Chinese parents. The Gerontologist58(6), e338-e348.


Digital Inclusion and Gerontechnology

Ageing affects performance in daily activities and influences the quality of life of many individuals. However, current technological advancements have the potential to resolve many challenges that people encounter as they age. The focus on Digital inclusion and gerontechnology aims to help fulfil the needs of an ageing population through technological interventions. Research in digital inclusion and gerontechnology includes (1) the identification of people’s needs in the third age; (2) the design and innovation of products to enhance personal independence in daily activities; (3) the application of new technologies for disease prevention, health maintenance, and leisure; (4) the enhancement of individual empowerment as well as social connectedness and inclusion.

Current Research

Collaboration is key to research on digital Inclusion and gerontechnology. PolyU academics and researchers from various departments have been engaging in projects related to the application of technology for active ageing. Their work can be summarised under the following themes:

  1. Assistive Technologies
  • Telecare technologies for older and disabled people at home and in the community
  • Telehealth and telemedication systems for older adults
  • Intelligent refrigerators for people with diabetes
  1. Technologies for Functional Enhancement
  • Computerised therapeutic training devices for older adults
  • Robotic training devices
  • Computerised home assessment tools for older adults with disabilities and those with age-related degeneration
  1. Innovative Techniques and Technologies for Enhancing Quality of Life
  • Noninvasive blood glucose monitoring systems
  • Pioneer techniques in modified multifocal electroretinography for optical degradation conditions
  • Development of smart thermal functional apparel technologies
  • Development of incontinence products for children, people with disabilities, and older adults
  1. Technologies for Information Dissemination and Education
  • Web-based training for automatic teller machine use for older people
  • Ginkgo: web-based resource centre for dementia care (
  • Interactive computer games for older adults
  1. Community Support and Health Services
  • Spatial programme design strategy for recreational space
  • Accessibility and disability
  • Future development of Rehabus services
  • Informational needs of health care professionals regarding dementia care
  • Care needs assessment of older adults with cognitive impairment
  1. Information and Communication Technologies
  • Training and its evaluation on digital technology for older adults

Research Directions

The aforementioned themes form the RCGFS’s research areas in gerontechnology. By capitalising on the expertise of our core research members and other relevant units in PolyU, we propose a series of intelligent technological systems for enhancing the quality of life of older adults during the RCGFS’s initial triennium.

Research Projects

Research project visualization 7ICT Lifelong Learning for the Third Age at PolyU


Funded by Office of the Government Chief Information Officer

Theory-Based Model Building

To promote active ageing and multigenerational capacity building, we are dedicated to developing effective theory-based models by constant and rigorous programme design, implementation and evaluation. These evidence-based models are conducive to enrichment of later life, enhancement of social connectedness, growth of generativity desire and achievement, and generational understanding by increasing social engagement and participation among older people. We believe that these efficacious theory-based models can inform further programme design and implementation in other organisations and settings.

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Research Directions

- Older people’s lifelong learning and capacity building

- Intergenerational contact and solidarity

- Innovative and intergenerational education practices

Research Projects

Research project visualization 6i-GESS Inter-Generational Engagement in Secondary Schools


Funded by ZeShan (H.K.) Foundation

Research project visualization 4Infusion Education on Active Ageing (IEAA): Innovation In-Class Activities in Secondary Schools


Funded by Quality Education Fund

Research project visualization 5Gearing up for Third Age and Multigenerational Capacity Building


Funded by Lee Kum Kee Family Foundation

Research project visualization 3Infusion Active Ageing Education Project


Funded by ZeShan (H.K.) Foundation


Age-Friendly Environment

Hong Kong is an ageing society. As estimated, 22% of its residents will be at least 60 years old by 2030. The World Health Organization (WHO)’s policy framework on active ageing (2002) and its initiative for the creation of ‘age-friendly’ cities promote the provision of suitable living environments to ensure the successful participation, good health, security, and independence of older adults. These initiatives focus on the interaction of environmental and social factors for the promotion of healthy and active ageing in urban settings.

According to the WHO, an age-friendly community

  • Recognises the great diversity among older adults
  • Promotes older adults’ inclusion (engagement) and contributions in all areas of community life
  • Respects older adults’ decisions and lifestyle choices
  • Anticipates and responds flexibly to ageing-related needs and preferences

In an age-friendly community, policies, programmes, services, and infrastructure related to both the physical and social environments are designed to enable older adults to live safely, enjoy good health, and continue to participate meaningfully in society. Designing a living environment for older adults in which only medical services are provided is no longer sufficient. An age-friendly living environment should adopt an interdisciplinary approach in which various factors, including biological, cognitive, psychological, behavioural, economic, social, and environmental factors, of older individuals are considered for their physical and psychosocial well-being. In brief, the development of an age-friendly living environment should be holistic and cross-disciplinary, and it should incorporate the values, beliefs, interests, expectations, and needs of older individuals.

Current Research

Our core research members’ previous and current research activities are consistent with the six areas recommended by the WHO for developing age-friendly living environments.

  1. Outdoor Space and Buildings
  • Adaptive models and integrated buildings
  • Study of wandering and elopement behaviours of older adults with cognitive impairment
  • Study of older adults living independently in public housing
  1. Transportation
  • Public transport for people with special needs (including older adults)
  1. Inclusive Housing
  • Design guidelines for the living environments of older adults
  • Housing environments (indoor and outdoor) for older adults
  • Fire safety in residential care homes for older people
  • Everyday products and objects for older adults
  • Access guidelines for people with special needs
  • Fall prevention and home safety for community-dwelling older adults
  1. Respect and Social Inclusion
  • Ageing in the community
  • Design of integrated service centres
  • ‘Inclusive design’ research
  • Study on the activity preferences and patterns of individuals with dementia in long-term care settings
  • Intergenerational reminiscence programme for older adults with cognitive impairment
  1. Social Participation (Lifestyle)
  • Community participation in urban living environment design
  • Study of participation of community-dwelling stroke survivors
  • Influence of ageing on the social engagement and lifestyles of older adults
  1. Community Support and Health Services
  • Spatial programme design strategy for recreational space
  • Accessibility and disability
  • Future development of Rehabus services
  • Informational needs of health care professionals in dementia care
  • Care needs assessment of older adults with cognitive impairment

Research Directions

To illustrate the two main directions of the research focus on age-friendly living environments, the RCGFS’s core research members plan to develop an age-friendly community in a district that has been designated for redevelopment soon and has a high population of older residents. The first direction is to develop the principles and guidelines of inclusive design for public facilities and environments. The second direction is to develop age-friendly products, facilities, and environments incorporating the principles of inclusive design. Research will also be conducted on the everyday life patterns, culture, and well-being of older adults.

  1. Optimising the Human–Environment Interface at Home
  • Design age-friendly home environments and home-living devices for the optimal and safe functioning of older adults
  1. Accessible Transportation Environments
  • Accessible public transportation: environments and facilities for older adults
  1. Inclusive Public Environments and Facilities
  • Flexible design of streetscapes and street furniture to meet the needs and preferences of older people
  • Inclusive design: public environments and facilities for older adults with age-related changes in mobility and cognitive and sensory–perceptual functions
  • Research on the cultural aspects of public community environments

Research Projects

 Research project visualization 2Age-Friendly City Project Phase 2


Funded by Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust

Research project visualization 2

Age-Friendly City Project Phase 1


Funded by Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust