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Health and aging

George Heckman and Paul Stolee

Geriatrician George Heckman (left) and Paul Stolee (right) are researching ways to improve health care, rehabilitation, and transitions between care settings for seniors.

Seniors (65 years and older) constitute the fastest growing population group in Canada. In 2001, it was estimated that 3.92 million Canadians were 65 years of age or older, a figure that is two thirds more than in 1981. During the same period, the overall Canadian population increased by only
one quarter.

The proportion of seniors in the overall population has gone from one in  twenty in 1921, to one in eight in 2001. As the “baby boomers” (born between 1946 and 1965) age, the seniors population is expected to reach 6.7 million in 2021 and 9.2 million in 2041 (nearly one in four Canadians). In fact, the growth of the seniors’ population will account for close to half of the growth of the overall Canadian population in the next four decades.

The fastest growth in the seniors’ population is occurring among the oldest Canadians. In 2001, over 430,000 Canadians were 85 years of age or older. more than twice as many as in 1981, and more than twenty times as many
as in 1921. The proportion of Canadians aged 85 or more is expected to grow to 1.6 million in 2041 – 4% of the overall population.

With an aging population comes an increased prevalence of frailty, which compounds health issues for many, and creates pressures on the health system.

Research in action

John Hirdes has a background in sociology and health informatics.  His research has led to the development of an internationally renown assessment and decision making tool to improve long term care for seniors. 

George Heckman is a geriatrician, internist and Schlegel Research Chair helping planners and service providers improve health care treatments and transitions for seniors.

Suzanne Tyas is an epidemiologist whose research helps us understand cognitive impairment, cognitive reserve, and healthy aging.

Anita Myers is a Canadian leader and innovator in program evaluation.  Her research improves driver safety among seniors, licensing policies, and identifies medically at risk divers.

Several faculty have connections with the RBJ Schlegel-UW Research Institute on Aging, the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program, and the RBC Retirement Research Centre at the University of Waterloo.   

Each month the world adds 870,000 more people over age 65. Many health and human systems weren’t designed with seniors’ needs in mind.     

Aging World Report, 2008