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Healthy aging, healthier seniors

Patient engagement at the McMaster Institute for Research in Aging

Supporting healthy aging in older adults is vital as people over age 65 are now the largest demographic in Canada. Research to support evidence-based health care and delivery is key to helping people age well.

A new research centre, MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging, brings expertise in aging to OSSU’s network to help researchers engage this demographic in patient-oriented research. This work will support healthy and productive aging in Ontario, with input from older adults who will provide important insights into health research.

“Many of Canada’s top researchers provide expertise through OSSU’s network in everything from neonatal and pediatric research through to cardiovascular, mental health research and more,” says Vasanthi Srinivasan, Executive Director of OSSU. “Our newest research centre, MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging, will fill a gap in aging expertise for patient-oriented researchers in Ontario and strengthen patient-research-policy connections.”

Ontario’s health system – and the patients, families and caregivers who are part of it – will benefit, as the centre’s expertise can inform health policy and clinical practice, leading to better patient care and quality of life.

Despite a 40-year age range and diverse perspectives, experiences, values and health status, older adults are often lumped into one age group by society.

“There is no typical older person – this is the largest demographic ranging from 65 years old to over 100,” says Dr. Parminder Raina, Scientific Director, McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA), which is one half of the collaborative. “That’s like comparing a 10-year-old to a 45-year-old. Their experiences and perspectives are incredibly diverse.”

The centre’s 100 plus researchers are exploring a range of topics that affect older adults, their families and communities, such as bone health, social isolation, living with multiple chronic conditions, aging-in-place and more.

“It is exciting to have aging as a focus of OSSU,” says Maureen Markle-Reid, Scientific Director of the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit at McMaster University which makes up the other half of the collaborative. “We are looking forward to working with many stakeholders across Ontario to develop a robust research agenda that engages patients and their families and improves the health and well-being of older people.”

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