The Women’s Age Lab – A Global First Launches at Women’s College Hospital
A dedicated research centre focused on addressing the unique health and wellbeing needs of older women
Toronto, ON— October 1, 2021 — Today, Women’s College Hospital (WCH) is proud to announce the launch of the Women’s Age Lab, the first and only centre of its kind in the world, dedicated to addressing the health inequities faced by older women. The Women’s Age Lab aims to improve the lives of older women using science to transform care and practice, ultimately driving health system and social change.
In our rapidly aging society, women make up the majority of the older adult population. They tend to live longer than their male counterparts, and while most older women live in the community, they also represent the vast majority of our long-term care residents. Despite this, health research, healthcare and public policy have largely ignored the gendered realities of aging in Canada.
“Women have specific and unique health needs that are often unacknowledged by our health system and its care providers. This has a direct impact on their quality of life as they age. For example, women are at a greater risk of experiencing adverse drug events, reporting feelings of loneliness and isolation, and being in congregate care. “These health issues are further compounded by the socio-cultural and economic inequities women face throughout their life. Recognizing that women who are newcomers to Canada, racialized, Indigenous and low-income face particularly acute inequities is important,” explained Dr. Paula Rochon, founding director of the Women’s Age Lab.
The Lab will focus on four key areas: gendered ageism; reimagining aging in place and congregate care; optimizing therapies; and promoting social connectedness. “The Women’s Age Lab will act as a catalyst for change, through its research, actions, awareness raising and advocacy efforts,” said Dr. Rulan Parekh, the vice president of academics at WCH. “Women’s College Hospital has a long history as a progressive organization committed to equity and innovation. So, it is only natural that our hospital would be the first to develop this type of action-oriented centre.”
Under the leadership of Dr. Rochon, an internationally recognized geriatrician, WCH senior scientist and a professor at the University of Toronto where she holds the Retired Teachers of Ontario Chair in Geriatric Medicine, a principal objective for the Lab is to advocate and raise the profile of the challenges facing women as they age. “Our team is working directly with older women in the community, listening to their perspectives and understanding the challenges they face, in order to better promote the value of gender equity in healthy aging. We believe that by engaging directly with older women we will be better positioned to develop new ideas and tools that can be leveraged by others across Canada,” Rochon noted.
Recognizing the importance of implementing research into practice, the Women’s Age Lab is also working with researchers and care providers from a variety of disciplines, as well as community-based organizations and policy makers to implement practical and scalable solutions that have the capacity to enhance the lives of older women.
“The Women’s Age Lab dovetails seamlessly with our ongoing commitment to creating a healthier and more equitable world. We know that applying a sex/gender and age lens to research, policy and healthcare, not only improves the health of older women, a considerable segment of our population, but benefits all of us. It was high time that a research centre like this was established,” said Heather McPherson, President and CEO of Women’s College Hospital.
For more information on the Women’s Age Lab, please visit: womensagelab.ca
About Women’s College Hospital
For more than 100 years Women’s College Hospital (WCH) has been developing revolutionary advances in healthcare. Today, WCH is a world leader in the health of women and Canada’s leading, academic ambulatory hospital. A champion of health equity, WCH advocates for the health of all women from diverse cultures and backgrounds and ensures their needs are reflected in the care they receive. It focuses on delivering innovative solutions that address Canada’s most pressing issues related to population health, patient experience and system costs.
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