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Addressing determinants of senior well-being and reducing social isolation

Category(s): Health
Status: Active
Principal: Barry Watson
Project Number: P0099
Year Approved: 2022

Project Description

This project seeks to demonstrate a scalable and economically sustainable model of applied research focused on the health and well-being of seniors living at home and in community settings. This will be accomplished through a collaborative approach between the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC), the University of New Brunswick Saint John campus (UNBSJ) and community partners with an initial focus within the greater Saint John region. The project will seek to translate outcomes from the analysis of data housed within the New Brunswick Institute for Research Data and Training (NB-IRDT) into high impact applied research projects that engage the students of NBCC in work-integrated learning opportunities (e.g., applied research projects, entrepreneurial opportunities, service learning and cooperative education). The goals of this project are to improve our current understanding of healthy aging, develop new insights and foster the development, implementation and assessment of novel solutions with partners in the community.  
Understanding the health and well-being of seniors is important given the rapidly increasing proportion of New Brunswick's population aged 65+. Initiatives aimed at improving health outcomes for seniors and encouraging healthy aging may create broad societal consequences as demands for health care and social services among this population leads to the characterization of seniors as net recipients of public funds. Our societal values are strong in wanting to support well-being and graceful aging of New Brunswick's older population; however, governments and families alike are strained to balance these essential needs among the many others needed for safe, healthy and productive communities. As the median age of the province's population continues to increase - with no near-term shift in demographics evident from most forecasts - new and innovative solutions that can be implemented across the province in a scalable, self-sustaining manner are required.  
Developing an approach to addressing the needs of the 65+ communities that can be both scalable and sustainable is critical to ensuring seniors are accessing programs and services that are informed by the latest research as well as individualized care. The development of pilot programs targeted to have the greatest impact is essential to meeting the needs of the province's aging population, as well as to ensuring available resources are used efficiently without compromising quality of services.