Our Aging Population: Is Anybody Listening?

We may feel at times like our life-stage experiences are unique.  We may wonder if anyone is listening, if our concerns are being addressed, and wonder who is there to help us.  This is especially true for our aging population as we face issues at a time when we’re feeling most vulnerable.

One example for hope is the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Aging, 2013-2018 Strategic Plan – ‘Living Longer, Living Better’. The plan addresses the global shift in the population over age 65 being greater than the total number who have ever reached this age in human history!   An example of the impact is the CIHR statistic: “in a period of less than 10 years, the number of researchers affiliated with the Institute rose from 79 in 2000-2001 to 987 in 2009-2010. CIHR’s investments in research in aging have quadrupled, to $120 million.”

The first priority of the Strategic Plan is to optimize population health and wellness over the trajectory of aging. The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) is an element of the strategic plan which collects information on the changing biological, medical, psychological, social and economic aspects of approximately 50,000 people, nationally, between 45-85, over a period of 20 years.  I am a participant in this study. The goal is to assess the combined factors to understand the impact, both individually and in combination, on maintaining health and the impact on development of disease and disability as we age.

Major national studies like these are complemented by other local initiatives such as the:

  • Research Institute for Aging (RIA) Schlegel-UWaterloo-Conestoga, generating high quality research evidence to uncover ways of improving quality of life for seniors
  • University of Toronto’s Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab (TAGlab), where work focuses on the intersection of aging and technology, to uncover  ways to address common issues of aging where technology can provide some benefit
  • Federation of Canadian Municipalities who are examining how the growing population of seniors are reshaping our communities.

If you wonder whether anybody is listening, the answer is a resounding YES!  The results will help define the optimum factors to help us live better and longer. If you are aware of other initiatives underway outside of government or academic fields, please forward it to my attention at Planet Longevity.

Sandra Downey


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