National study opens centre in Winnipeg’s Deer Lodge

A nationwide study on the effects of aging has recently begun in Canada. The study, dubbed the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), will be the largest longitudinal study to take place in Canada to date, including close to 50,000 Canadian participants from coast to coast.

The purpose of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging is to assess and examine the effects of aging on the individuals, aiming to help us to better understand the process and factors that contribute to aging healthy and well.

The CLSA currently has 11 data collection facilities throughout the country, one of which is located at Winnipeg’s Deer Lodge Centre, located on Portage Avenue. This particular data collection facility will be run with the help of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Aging. The Deer Lodge Centre is a facility primarily focused on helping adults with rehabilitative services relating to long-term health issues and concerns.

The 50,000 Canadians participating in the study are all between the ages of 45 and 85 years old. In depth information will be obtained from about 30,000 of the participants, mainly through physical examination. For the remaining 20,000 individuals questionnaires will sent out in order to get more basic, and less invasive, information. Of the 50,000 participants, about 4,400 will be Manitobans. From the 4,400 Manitobans included in the study, about 3,000 will be people from Winnipeg specifically, and will be randomly chosen to be included in the study. The remaining 1,400 Manitobans will be surveyed via telephone to obtain the required information.

The University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging has already proven itself to be integral to the national study. The Centre on Aging has already conducted the first round of data collection for the study, which included 855 people from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The Centre for Aging collected this data in November 2010 through telephone interviews.

The study will collect data through a variety of health tests administered to participants every three years. Tests will include: bone density assessment, vision testing, hearing tests, blood tests, and balance testing. In order to gain enough information from these various tests over time, the participants will be tracked for the next 20 years to ensure an appropriate length of time is examined, which will provide more accurate information for the study.

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging also aims to help us better understand and determine appropriate courses of action in healthcare policies in the future. This study comes at a time of a great demographic shift that has never been seen before.

The generation of the baby boomers is now largely heading into retirement and old age. As this shift occurs we will need to keep in mind the impact that this will have on our healthcare system and policies. Findings from this study could help provide some key answers for what the future of our healthcare system will look like and what will need to be done to accommodate this large aging generation.