Federal funding supports U of T Mississauga research, invests in the health of seniors

Image of Bruce Schneider
Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 11:01am
UTM News

Alice Wong, minister of state (seniors), on behalf of Leona Aglukkaq, minister of health, announced funding Nov. 8 at U of T Mississauga for five international research projects to help keep seniors active and improve their quality of life.

The projects, including research by U of T Mississauga professor Bruce Schneider, reflect a diverse range of important issues facing seniors such as continence, hearing loss, assisted living technologies, mobility in urban areas and care in residential facilities.

“Our government is committed to continuously finding ways to ensure we have the best possible strategies in place to keep the growing seniors population active, engaged and informed," said Wong. "We are pleased to invest in these international research projects, which will provide new information to guide policies, programs and practices to enhance the quality of life of older adults and their families."

The five research projects are funded under the European Research Area on Ageing --  Europe’s first joint research program in aging -- involving partners in Finland, Sweden, Israel, the U.K., Luxembourg, France and Norway. Canadian funding is provided through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Following the announcement, Wong toured Schneider’s Human Communication Laboratory, where researchers will investigate new approaches to help older adults with hearing loss.

 

“Older adults often complain that they find it very difficult to understand what other people are saying in the noisy situations characteristic of everyday life,” said Schneider.  “As a result, they tend to withdraw from many social activities they previously found enjoyable, and may mishear information that is crucial to their well-being. The goal of this international research initiative is to devise ways to make it easier for them to communicate effectively in such situations so that they can lead more enjoyable, active and satisfactory lives.” Schneider, who will receive $222,893 over three years, is collaborating with research partners in Israel, Finland and the U.K.

“The opportunities and challenges of an aging society are not singular to Canada. International collaborations are necessary to more quickly and effectively take advantage of the opportunities and find solutions to complex challenges,” said Yves Joanette, scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Aging. “The significance of the Canadian contribution to the international teams being announced today is a testament to the excellence of researchers in the area of aging in Canada, and their ability to connect globally and benefit from others' experiences.”

Alex Mihailidis, an associate professor in U of T’s Department of Occupational Science & Therapy and the Barbara G. Stymiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at U of T and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, also received $226,733 for his work on in-home technology to help older adults maintain their independence and keep physically and mentally active for as long as they can.