New Canadian study on aging

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging is a groundbreaking new study that will follow 50,000 Canadians between the ages of 45 and 85 over the course of 20 years.

With a goal of unlocking some of the mysteries of growing older, researchers are hoping to find new ways to improve the health of Canadians.

Lead study researcher professor Parminder Raina of McMaster University told The Star, “We’re looking at the aging process from cell to society. We want to understand how we can live longer, but with the quality of life that allows us to function properly and independently and stay in our homes as long as possible.”

With about 150 investigators from several universities around the country on the team, researchers are hoping to discover which life-altering events affect people’s health the most and how they cope with them, how Canadians transition from work to retirement, how people adapt to their changing roles and responsibilities that come with aging, and if living in an urban or rural environment affects the aging process.

Raina noted that there are a lot of gaps in current research that need to be more closely studied.

Researchers hope the study will help improve current health care delivery services, as well as create government policies that will help people age at home in a healthy way. The study will be particularly helpful for the aging baby boomer population, as they are aging in a different way than any generation before them. It should also help improve the workplace environment for older workers and shed light on the factors that are helping this generation live longer.

With the knowledge that seniors will be up to 25 per cent of the total population by 2036, such studies are of incredible importance.

For this study, researchers contacted people of interest by phone this past spring, and those who agreed to participate were interviewed for an hour on a follow up call. The telephone interview will be repeated every three years for 20 years, along with a half hour call every 1.5 years to keep in contact and updated on their health and well-being.

The research will provide massive insight into finding ways to improve healthcare and prevent disease by way of learning how biological, medical, social and psychological factors all come together to affect healthy aging.

The study is funded by the federal government through the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador are also providing support.