Thus, the Institute’s activities in the coming years will focus on finding tangible solutions that will make a real difference foe Canada’s aging population.
The impact of an aging population is being felt in Canadian society and is giving it a new face. Since 2006, the 60 to 64 age group has grown faster than any other. A similar trend is underway for the oldest age groups; including centenarians.1 Living longer poses challenges, including living with chronic diseases, isolation and cognitive losses. It is, however, possible to live longer with a good quality of life by optimizing health and wellness through an approach based both on the life course and on a comprehensive perspective incorporating physical, psychological, social and environmental factors.
In concrete terms, the Institute’s desire to have a real impact on research and on the quality of older people’s lives has been translated into numerous initiatives. Examples include the Mobility in Aging and Cognitive Impairment in Aging strategic initiatives, the initiative on adapted health care and other major initiatives such as the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), a unique broad-based research platform, and the International Collaborative Research Strategy for Alzheimer’s Disease, for which the Institute of Aging serves as the leader within CIHR, with the support of the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. Also in alignment with the strategic directions set out by CIHR, the Institute of Aging has successfully expanded the pool of researchers in the field of aging, increased the number of its international partnerships, accelerated the advancement of research on aging and spurred CIHR investments in research on aging, which have quadrupled since 2001. Both in terms of developing knowledge and in terms of translating it into better care and services, the Institute’s innovations have been numerous.
Because the factors that determine optimal aging are rooted in the life course, the Institute regards aging as an evolving process that continues throughout every individual’s lifetime. Life is a whole, and aging is not an illness. The study of aging requires a holistic, interdisciplinary approach and a comprehensive perspective, in which prevention is just as important as intervention and excellence is the guiding principle for all activities at all times.
With this strategic plan, the Institute has established five research priorities that underlie the following four major goals:
- To make researchers more aware of the challenges posed by older people’s health and wellness.
- To ensure that knowledge users and the general public participate in the research process from the very outset.
- To incorporate all aspects of the individual and society that contribute to health and wellness.
- To draw inspiration from the traditional values of Aboriginal peoples that foster positive attitudes toward elders.
To determine the Institute’s research priorities, the Institute and its Advisory Board conducted wide-ranging consultations on the opportunities and challenges that Canadian society faces with respect to population aging, followed by a series of town hall meetings where citizens had the opportunity to discuss the directions chosen and the actions to be taken. Across Canada, nearly 1500 researchers, health professionals, policy makers and representatives of seniors’ associations shared their perceptions of needs regarding research that have contributed to this document and proposed some innovative avenues for action. The Institute thanks them.
The present 2013-18 strategic plan is based on five research priorities. The first two priorities involve the factors that enable people to live longer and to maintain an active and satisfying life while aging. The next two priorities encompass the solutions that can be applied to older people’s complex health problems. The fifth priority concerns the conditions needed for research results to have a real impact on the health and wellness of the aging population.
The Institute will develop a five-year Action Plan that will be updated on a yearly basis that will define the concrete steps to be taken to implement these priorities. These plans will be based on the fundamental elements that the Institute promotes: providing support to develop required research capacity, decompartmentalizing research to include all research communities, forming partnerships with users at all levels, ensuring convergence with CIHR’s signature initiatives and with those of other institutes, and making an optimal contribution to the major initiatives in which the Institute plays a leading role, as well as in mutually beneficial international collaborations.
To view the full strategic plan, please click here.