Dr. Putnam’s research focuses on the intersections of aging and disability, with particular emphasis on understanding how public programs and public policy meets the needs of persons aging with disability. Within this area, her work examines collaborations between aging and disability service providers and their capacity to serve the aging with disability population, long-term care and support needs of persons aging with disabilities, the role of activity portfolios in fostering well being among older adults, and the relationship of asset accumulation in fostering financial security and independent living among older adults and persons aging with disability.
Dr. Putnam’s scholarship is both independent and done in collaboration with colleagues across institutions and disciplines, and when possible with direct stakeholders. Funders of Dr. Putnam’s research and/or research collaborations include the John A. Hartford Foundation, the AARP Foundation, National Institute of Aging, and the Productive Living Board of St. Louis County. She is frequently engaged to speak about aging with disability and public policy to research, practice, and policy audiences.
In addition to her research, Dr. Putnam actively participates at the national and international level in building bridges across the aging and disability fields of policy and practice. Most recently she is serving on the expert panel that drafted the Toronto declaration on bridging knowledge, policy and practice in aging and disability, a product of the 2011 Growing Older with Disability meeting at the Festival of International Conferences on Caregiveing, Disabiliity, Aging, and Technology held in Toronto, Canada. With the help of March of Dimes Canada, she coordinated a supplement issue of the International Journal of Integrated Care about bridging aging and disability and the rationale or and need for the Toronto Declaration. Dr. Putnam continues to coordinate the activities of that expert panel as they develop the entity, Bridging Aging and Disability International Network, to facilitate knowledge development, transfer, and translation between the fields of aging and disability. She was recently appointed as Editor of the Journal of Gerontological Social Work.
Dr. Putnam is one of the few scholars in the field of social work studying aging with disability and is recognized for her leadership in this area. She has actively worked to build awareness of the distinctions between aging with long-term disability and incurring disability for the first time in later life as it relates to provision of supports and services and the overall experience of aging. Her work is both theoretical and empirical, but always related to public policy and the practical aspects of making aging and disability policies and programs work well for people aging with disabilities and their families. Dr. Putnam’s current interest in capacity building within aging and disability service networks directly stems from her prior work. She believes that building capacity to meet unique needs of aging with disability populations has potential to compliment and move current discussions focused on institutional systems change to also include discourse what individuals and their families need to live independently, engage in their community, and experience positive aging.
Social Action: Economic Empowerment & Poverty
Social Welfare Policies & Services
Advanced Research Design & Methods
Integrating public policy issues & outcomes into social work research
Dr. Putnam is currently engaged in a several research projects including a scoping review of the literature on aging with disability and long-term services and supports, and analysis of existing measures to assess aging with disability in public use secondary data sets, and with colleagues in understanding how Aging and Disability Resource Centers are meeting the needs of persons aging with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Putnam, M. (2011). Perceptions of difference between aging and disability service systems consumers: Implications for policy initiatives to rebalance long-term care. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 54(3), 325-342.
Lombe, M., Huang, J., Putnam, M., & Cooney, K. (2010). Exploring saving performance in an IDA program: Findings for people with disabilities. Social Work Research, 34(2), 83-93.
Putnam, M., Pickard, J., Rodriguez, C., & Shear, E. (2010). Stakeholder perspectives on policies to support caregivers of older adults with dementia. Journal of Family Social Work, 13, 173-190.
Putnam, M., & Tang, F. (2008). Long-term care planning and preparation among persons with multiple sclerosis. Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 27(2), 143-165.
Putnam, M. (2008). Long-term care policy as an investment in baby boomers and future generations. In R. Hudson (Ed.), Boomer Bust? (pp. 227-240). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishing Company.
Lombe, M., Putnam, M., & Huang, J. (2008). Exploring effects of institutional characteristics on saving outcome: The case of the cash and counseling program. Journal of Policy Practice, 7(4), 260-278.
Putnam, M., Sherraden, M., Zhang, L., & Morrow-Howell, N. (2008). Age differences in IDA savings outcomes: Findings from the American Dream Demonstration. Journal of Social Policy & Aging, 20(1), 45-63.
Putnam, M. (2012, January). Mixed measures: Distinguishing disability from aging in social science research on successful aging. Presented at the Society for Social Work Research meetings, Washington, D.C.
Putnam, M. (2011, November). Rationales for aligning theory, measures and distinguishing aging with disability populations. Presented at the Gerontology Society of American meetings, Boston, MA.
Putnam, M. (2011, June). Aging and disability bridging experiments in the United States: Progress and challenges. Key Note Presentation at the Growing Older with a Disability meeting at the Festival for International Conferences on Care-giving, Disability, Aging and Technology, Toronto, Canada.
Putnam, M. (2011, June). Theory, measurement and moving research on aging with disability forward. Presented at the Growing Older with a Disability meeting at the Festival for International Conferences on Care-giving, Disability, Aging and Technology, Toronto, Canada.
Lightfoot, E., Bricout, J., Cramer, E., Parish, S., Plummer, S., Putnam, M., & Slayter, E. (2011, January). Methodological, logistical and ethical issues in research related to people with disabilities. Presented for Society Social Work Research meetings, Tampa, FL.
Putnam, M., Morrow-Howell, N., Inoue, M., & Greenfield, J. (2011, January). Variance in activity measures across public aging survey instruments: Content analysis findings. Presented at the Society for Social Work Research meetings, Tampa, FL.
Inoue, M., Greenfield, J., Putnam, M., & Morrow-Howell, N. (2010, November). Consolidating activity items into activity domains and engagement patterns. Presented at the Gerontology Society of America meetings, New Orleans, LA.
Inoue, M., Greenfield, J., Putnam, M., & Morrow-Howell, N. (2010, November). Variance in activity measures across public use aging survey instruments: Content analysis findings. Presented at the Gerontology Society of America meetings, New Orleans, LA.
Putnam, M. (2010, April). Understanding aging with disability: Implications for scholarship & practice. Presented at Colombia University's Seminar Series on Aging & Health, New York, NY.
Cooney, K., Huang, J., Lombe, M., & Putnam, M. (2010, January). Saving performance in an IDA for participants with disabilities: Do institutional characteristics matter? Presented for the Social Work Research meetings, San Francisco, CA.
Putnam, M., & Tang, F. (2009, November). Aging with multiple sclerosis, household finances, and consideration of long term care service use. Presented at Gerontology Society of America meetings, Atlanta, GA.
Campbell M., & Putnam, M. (2009, November). Bridging the aging and disability nexus: Demographic, conceptual and policy perspectives. Presented at the Gerontology Society of America meetings, Atlanta, GA.
Inoue, M., Greenfield, J., Putnam, M., & Morrow-Howell, N. (2009, November). Content analysis applied to public use aging survey instruments to assess activity measures. Presented at the Gerontology Society of America meetings, Atlanta, GA.
Putnam, M. (2009, March). Crossing network lines between aging and disabilities. Presented at the 1st International Conference on Bridging Knowledge in Long Term Care and Support: Crossing Boundaries between Aging and Disability, Barcelona, Spain.
Putnam, M. (2009, March). Local, regional and national experiences on bridging: U.S. perspectives. Presented at the 1st Conference on Bridging Knowledge in Long Term Care and Support: Crossing Boundaries between Aging and Disability, Barcelona, Spain.
Putnam, M. (2008, November). Long-term care as investment policy: Widening the lens of social work in aging. Presented at CSWE Gero-ED Track Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
Selected Grant Activity
(July 2011 - July 2013) Principal Investigator, Advancing Conceptual And Analytic Approaches To The Study Of Activities And Aging. Multiple PI with Nancy Morrow-Howell, Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis. Funded by the National Institute on Aging.
(October 2011 — June 2011) Principal Investigator, Aging Service Study: Building Capacity to Serve People with Developmental Disabilities in St. Louis County. Funded by the Productive Living Board of St. Louis County, Missouri.
(January 2011 — August 2012) Co-Principal Investigator, Understanding Purchasing Decisions of Self-Directed Participants: Analysis within a Statewide Cash and Counseling Program: West Virginia. Co-Principal Investigators: Margaret Lombe, Ph.D. and Kevin Mahoney, Ph.D. Boston College School of Social Work. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
(December 2010 — June 2012) Consultant — Disability and Aging, Assets and Aging Action: Creating Economic Stability, Social Justice, and Advocacy in the New "Third Age" in America. Nancy Morrow-Howell, Ph.D. and Michael Sherraden, Ph.D., PIs., Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis. Funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.
Consulting and Professional Activity
Center for Social Development & Gloval Service Institute - Faculty Associate
Administration on Aging Program Competitions - Reviewer
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Research Competitions - Peer Reviewer