The Centre for Elder Research at Sheridan’s Oakville campus is focused on applied research in aging and is exploring practical ways to enhance the quality of life of older Canadians.
Dr. Lia Tsotsos
Director of the Centre for Elder Research
We all age, but not necessarily the same way. Multiple factors like past lived experiences, current situational contexts, and personal needs and preferences all play a role in determining the health and wellness of Canada’s aging population.
As one of the few college-based centres in Canada focused on applied research in aging, the Centre for Elder Research (based at Sheridan’s Oakville campus) is dedicated to studying these critical factors in depth and exploring practical ways to enhance the quality of life of older Canadians.
The Centre’s innovative Lab to Life® approach enables older adults in the community to not only participate in the research but to also benefit from it and contribute to its direction. “That’s really the defining characteristic of how we conceptualize the work we do,” says Dr. Lia Tsotsos, Director of the Centre for Elder Research. “It’s about considering the challenges and opportunities we’re seeing with this rise in the older population, examining them from a person-centric perspective, and then using those findings to inform the development of innovative technologies and changes to care and service delivery.”
Having access to Sheridan’s diverse student, faculty, and staff talent is a plus. “Drawing on these resources, we’re able to put together very strong interdisciplinary teams, tailored to the project being undertaken,” says Tsotsos.
Everyone is aging and the research we are doing to benefit older adults today will also benefit future generations.Dr. Tsotsos
Bringing the lab to life in the community
Three recent projects show how the Lab to Life® approach works. Combining memory training with making visual art demonstrated that participants can not only benefit cognitively, but also creatively, as many of them went on to create art on a regular basis.
The Centre’s team also helped a provider of adult day program services design, build, and test an immersive room with floor-to-ceiling screens and surround sound. The potential benefits of immersive virtual reality for individuals living with physical, sensory, or cognitive challenges can have a significant impact on well-being.
Finally, the team worked with local community groups to enhance a food delivery package for older adults living with food insecurity. This exercise helped the recipients overcome social isolation, engage with their communities, and better understand their own nutritional needs.
“These all speak to how we might integrate solutions into people’s lives and go beyond a short-term intervention strategy,” says Dr. Tsotsos.
Supporting solutions to benefit future generations
The Centre for Elder Research is always seeking ways to collaborate with business, industry, academia, and the community. “It’s important to recognize that aging issues aren’t limited to older adults,” says Dr. Tsotsos. “Everyone is aging and the research we’re doing to benefit older adults today will also benefit future generations. We invite people to join our Lab to Life® research community and be part of designing solutions that will support healthy aging across the lifespan.”