Exciting 20 year study on aging to begin this year in Canada

There is exciting news coming out from the CIHR in Canada as they prepare to do a twenty year study on aging. This study will be of vast importance as Canada approaches a time where the largest population will be over 65.
By the year 2050 the largest population in Canada will be in the 80-year-old range. There are now questions as to will the advancing age of Canada be a positive one or one that puts the medical field in an even more perilous crisis than it already is facing.

Population aging is at the centre of the policy debate in many countries. Populations projections show that 23% to 25% of the Canadian population will be aged 65 and over in 2031 and that the proportion of the oldest seniors (80 years and over) will also increase sharply. Since the large baby-boom generations are approaching retirement, many people will experience the transition from work to retirement. Aging will also affect labour force growth, old age income security expenditures, the health care system as well as the demand for informal care giving and home care services.

from a handout from the CIHR

The ultimate goal of the study to be headed by Dr. Parminder Raina of McMaster University, Dr. Christina Wolfson, McGill University and Dr. Susan Kirkland, Dalhousie University is successful aging. Dr. Raina specializes in the epidemiology of aging, caregiver health, dementia, health service utilization, informal and formal social support, income and health, disability, epidemiological methods, population health, injury and knowledge transfer. At a recent journalist workshop put on by the CIHR he was excited to be able to discuss the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). Over 160 experts and 26 universities will be working together across Canada on CLSA which launched in late 2008.

The study will not just be used in the medical field but for future government decision making concerning aging.

The aging of Canada has many factors. It is possible that in the future people wouldn’t live longer. Factors such as obesity, which is becoming a large problem in Canada, and sedentary lifestyles may change what is the average length of life. Alcohol and drug abuse are other factors that have to be factored into the equation.

The study will also be linking into other international studies being conducted in the U.S., U.K., France, Italy and the Netherlands. CIHR will be linking with HRS, ELSA, ILSA and LASA. Other countries and organizations could also be included in the future.

The study will be multi-disciplinary focusing on biological, physical, psychological and social function.

Right now the government of Canada is looking through statistics to help find the first 20,000 of the total 50,000 study participants ages between 45-85. Those who consent to share their information will the CLSA will be followed up with. These recruits will be followed for at least 20 years beginning in 2009. All participants will be informed of the purpose and the nature of the study. They will be advised of their required participation, their rights and about the confidentiality involved. They will also be told of the anticipated risks and benefits being part of the study will be.

The first study group of 20,000 will be followed every 3 years using a questionnaire. A more in-depth group of 30,000 participants will have in-depth clinical testing completed every 3 years at one of 10 sites throughout Canada. Once a study member turns 80 years old they will be followed annually. All members will be sent a yearly short questionnaire to keep contact information current.

CLSA will provide Canada will the knowledge to move forward not only in health care dealing with aging but with city planning. Our children will greatly benefit from the information this study will gain for Canada’s growth.

The study is being funded by CIHR, CIHR-IA, Health Canada, the BC Network on Aging and FRSQ Quebec Network for Research on Aging.

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