Live Long, Live Well
In the late 90s, the industrialized world was obsessed by the Y2K phenomenon and its implications for computer systems. Many in the field of gerontology now compare the Y2K problem to the upcoming surge in the population of seniors.
By 2020, fully 25 percent of Canada's population will be over the age of 60. Around the world, the situation is much the same, posing a great challenge to health care resources and society as a whole.
At the University of Victoria's "Centre On Aging," researchers work under the guidance of Dr. Neena Chappell, a world leader in the field of social gerontology. Her work takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of aging which encompasses the social, psychological, and environmental conditions, as well as the physical aspects of health care.
For over 20 years, Dr. Chappell has provided international leadership into the sociological impacts of aging. Her research debunked the myth that most seniors are frail (both physically and mentally) and revealed the strength and independence they can enjoy through active social networks.
Dr.Chappell's research on caregiving exposed the benefits people derive from caring for aging family members and friends. With 75 percent of all senior care being performed at home, studying ways to make the experience more beneficial is a crucial area of study.
Making the health care system more responsive to the needs of seniors is another research goal for the Centre on Aging. Here they argue Canada's health care system is inappropriate for an aging society because of its emphasis on acute care, when the majority of seniors suffer chronic conditions. As Chair of Social Gerontology, Dr. Chappell's continuing research aims to firmly establish the need for a broad based community approach to the care of seniors. Her future recommendations may one day lead to a reshaping of the health care system in Canada and serve as a model for other countries to follow.