Unlocking The Mysteries Of Aging

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The Government of Canada today announced a new study that will increase the understanding of common health problems affecting seniors. David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health.

"This long-term study of 50,000 Canadians will look into the many factors affecting us as we age, while at the same time creating several new science-related jobs," said Minister Aglukkaq. "This information will be used to improve the health and quality of life of older Canadians."

"The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) will be one of the most comprehensive studies on aging ever undertaken," said Mr. Sweet. "It will inform the Government's programs and services for the elderly."

Dr. Anne Martin-Matthews, Scientific Director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, said, "Aging is a reality for all Canadians. Still, very little is known about how and why we age the way we do. The CLSA brings together the capacity, knowledge and expertise to unlock some of the greatest mysteries of aging and to identify the social and biological factors that have the most impact on our health over time."

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) is a large, national, long-term study of adult development and aging. The study will follow 50,000 Canadians, aged 45-85 years (at the time of recruitment), over the next two decades. It is estimated that study organizers will be hiring as many as 160 researchers and research co-ordinators, laboratory staff and IT systems personnel over the next year at 10 centres across the country.

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Researchers will collect information on the changing biological, medical, psychological, social and economic aspects of the participants' lives. The design and extended follow-up of the CLSA will enable the study team to look at more than a brief snapshot of the adult Canadian population and to critically examine health transitions and trajectories over a longer-term period. Statistics Canada has committed important and invaluable in-kind contributions to the design of the survey and the recruitment of participants.

CLSA participants will be randomly selected from across Canada and, as such, Canadians will not be able to proactively volunteer to be part of the study. Once enrolled, participants will be studied at three-year intervals and will be followed for at least 20 years.

The CLSA is a collaboration reflecting the work of Principal Investigators Dr. Parminder Raina, McMaster University, Dr. Christina Wolfson, McGill University, and Dr. Susan Kirkland, Dalhousie University, together with a multi-disciplinary research team comprised of more than 160 researchers from 26 universities across Canada.

"Some people age in a healthy fashion despite many physical health challenges, while others who are in good physical health age less optimally. What explains this phenomenon? The study will answer questions that are relevant to decision-makers to improve the health of Canadians," said Dr. Raina, the study's lead Principal Investigator.

In addition to starting at mid-life, the CLSA is the first study of its kind to collect social and economical retirement factors, as well as clinical and biological measures. More than 70 longitudinal studies have taken place worldwide and most focused on only one condition or on people over 65 years of age.

The Government of Canada is investing $30 million to support this study. The CLSA will answer questions that are relevant to decision-makers to improve the quality of life of Canadians.

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