While more and more older adults are living with dementia, many are living well, thanks in part to researchers like Carrie McAiney. She works together with individuals with dementia, their families, and care partners to understand and address their future and current needs. Through collaboration, McAiney is redefining dementia care and support.
With nearly two decades of research experience, McAiney has been appointed the Schlegel Research Chair in Dementia. The position is shared with the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) and the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (AHS). It marks the 10th Schlegel Chair position supported by the Schlegel family to enhance care and quality of life for older adults, and the fifth Schlegel Research Chair at UWaterloo.
McAiney joins the RIA and AHS from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, where she was director of the Program for Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research. She obtained her PhD from UWaterloo in 1998.
“Dr. McAiney’s research is of crucial importance as we adjust to changing demographics,” says Josie d’Avernas, Executive Director at the RIA. “Her approach of putting individuals living with dementia and their families at the centre of her work makes her the perfect addition to our team of researchers.”
Paul Stolee, interim Dean of AHS and himself an aging-focused researcher, said, “We are delighted to welcome Dr. McAiney back to the University and to the School of Public Health and Health Systems. Her research and scholarship will greatly contribute to our Faculty’s leadership role in improving the quality of life of older persons.”
McAiney hopes to change the way people view dementia and to challenge the stigma that surrounds the diagnosis.
“I hope that the research that I and the other Schlegel Research Chairs conduct will help to shift the often negative perceptions of people living with dementia and their abilities,” says McAiney. “We as a society need to gain understanding and a sincere appreciation for the important and outstanding contributions individuals living with dementia make in their communities.”
To help identify research priorities and advise her work, McAiney is establishing a Dementia Advisory Committee involving those living with dementia and family care partners. She also serves on a committee assessing evidence and best practices to inform the national dementia strategy.
To mark the beginning of this new role, McAiney delivered a public lecture to a sold-out audience at the RIA’s home base at the Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Aging in Waterloo.