Many developed nations are experiencing a much higher proportion of older persons in their populations than ever before as a result of lower levels of fertility coupled with longer life expectancy. Societies, families, and individuals are facing new challenges in how to cope with this aging population. At the societal level, policy makers and planners require reliable information on not only the number and proportion of older adults, but also their economic and health care needs. Profs. Fuhrer’s and Strumpf’s work on early retirement and its links to economic resources and access to health insurance seeks to address some of these issues. Families also play a critical role in caring for older relatives. According to research conducted by Profs. Fuhrer and Quesnel-Vallée, support received from family and other social network members improves not only the economic and physical conditions of older persons, but it also helps alleviate depression and feelings of emotional isolation. Lastly, at the individual-level, late life is a crucial stage of the life course, when individuals experience a range of fundamental physical and social changes. Several researchers at McGill have been involved in better understanding these processes. For example, a series of studies by Prof. Fuhrer offer new insights into the process of cognitive aging, while much of Prof. Kaufman’s work endeavors to understand why some individuals have longer and healthier lives than others. Prof. Aniruddha Das’s research focuses on the physiological implications of older adults’ social networks and resources, and of turning points in late life such as spousal loss. We will further expand our expertise in these research axes in the near future.

Members working in this area: Aniruddha Das, Rebecca Fuhrer, Jay Kaufman, Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, Céline LeBourdais, and Erin Strumpf.