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Canadian study on aging gets funding boost

March 9, 2015 — 

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, a major study that will provide in-depth understanding of aging for decades, has received booster shot of funding. The study, which the University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging is part, has received a $41.6 million grant through the Government of Canada to continue its work for the next five years.

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) was launched to investigate the complexities of the aging process with a view of improving our understanding of the transitions and trajectories of aging. The CLSA is a Canada-wide, 20 year follow-up study of 50,000 people between the ages of 45 and 85 years at baseline. Thirty thousand of these participants are asked to provide in-depth information through physical examinations and biological specimen collections (Comprehensive Cohort). The remaining 20,000 (Tracking Cohort) are asked to provide the common core information set by questionnaires only.

This initiative comes at a time when the baby boomers are moving into late middle-age and retirement, a demographic shift that has created a critical need for aging research to inform interventions, programs and policies, and to promote healthy aging for today’s and tomorrow’s seniors. This research is needed if future interventions and policies are to reach the objectives of improving health, allowing individuals to maintain desired levels of activity into late life, and increasing the lifespan as well as quality of life.

 

Centre on Aging’s role

The University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging plays a large role as one of eleven data collection sites across the country and one of only four survey sites.

“Our site, located at Deer Lodge Centre, has had an estimated 2,700 participants go through its doors since the outset,” says Verena Menec, the study’s principal investigator and Canada Research Chair in Healthy Aging. “We have also completed thousands and thousands of phone interviews as one of only four survey sites in Canada. Essentially, our site ensures the prairie populations are represented in this national cohort, which will result in data that researchers can use to better obtain an accurate picture of the many factors related to healthy aging.”

Verena Menec and Philip St. John from the University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging are the Manitoba Site co-principal investigators for CLSA, while U of M’s Audrey Blandford serves as the local site coordinator.

CLSA participants complete telephone interviews or at-home interviews and visits to data collection sites, like the U of M site located at Deer Lodge Centre, where they take part in physical assessments such as cognitive and hearing tests, blood tests, and a bone density scan.

The study provides a unique opportunity to examine the aging process and the factors that shape healthy aging. By collecting this information, the study can identify factors that can be used to develop interventions to improve the health of Canadians.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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