Overview

The Gilbrea Centre brings together researchers from many disciplines to pursue leading edge research in critically important areas of aging.  Research, scholarship and knowledge exchange are carried out in five thematic areas that respond to contemporary and future issues facing older people in Canada.

To learn more about program areas and themes click on each title in the graphic below.
Gilbrea Research Programs and Cross Cutting Themes Model

Research Projects and Networks

The Centre provides a wide range of support for member led research-related activities. These activities include, but are not limited to: financial management of awards, monitoring project timelines and deliverables, facilitating institutional transfer agreements, hiring project specific staff, assiting with knowledge mobilization events, and academic reporting to funders.

Please contact our Research Manager to learn more about how we can support you as a member of the Centre and your funded research activities (gilbrea@mcmaster.ca or 905-525-9140 ext. 24449).

Current Centre Projects


Precarity and aging: unequal experiences in contemporary late life

Amanda Grenier Director, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, Health, Aging and Society , Social Sciences


The aging of societies is globally recognized, with governments focused on planning for the needs of ‘greying’ populations. Yet, while there is growing evidence of inequality in late life, and attention to the impacts of precarity caused by labour and migration in earlier periods of the life course, research has often overlooked precarity in late life. Our research team will explore ‘precarious aging’ at three locations of inequality: older people with low income, older people who are foreign born, and older people with disabilities. This five-year project will use mixed methods that include conceptual reviews, semi-structured interviews with key informants and older people, analysis of statistical and administrative data, and policy analysis to: 1) Understand contemporary experiences of precarity and aging; 2) Examine the adequacy of existing conceptual frameworks and approaches to precarity and inequality; 3) Assess features of local, provincial, national, and international policies to determine challenges, and identify key areas for change in policy and programs. The results of this project will contribute to better conceptual understandings of precarity and inequality in later life, and establish a foundation upon which to base policy and practice recommendations. Results will also make substantial contributions to knowledge in social gerontology, and our respective disciplines of social work, occupational therapy, sociology and political science.

For more information, place contact Dr. Grenier at grenier@mcmaster.ca

Understanding and Enacting KMb in Large Teams and Across AGE-WELL: An Interactive Action-Oriented Project

Amanda Grenier Director, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, Health, Aging and Society , Social Sciences


Amanda Grenier, Karen Kobayashi (AGE-WELL KMOB co-leads) recently received funding for a 2-year research project to help understand knowledge mobilization in large interdisciplinary research teams. 
This interactive and participatory project aims to gain a better understanding of how interdisciplinary researchers understand KMb, how they envision and enact KMb within their disciplines and projects, and the actions and supports they deem necessary to successfully engage in KMb. This project also engages a full-time post doctoral student and AGE-WELL HQP (Igor Gontcharov).

Playing with memories: The elicitation of leisure biographies

Meridith Griffin Associate Director, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, Health, Aging and Society, Social Sciences


In partnership with the Hamilton Public Library, this project will explore both the process and the outcome of crafting and co-creating leisure biographies in a guided writing group for older adults. The goal is to provide insight into the role that leisure has played across the life course of participants. Involvement in leisure has been linked to well-being and social integration for those of all ages, and has been identified as being particularly important for older adults. Here, we conceptualize leisure widely, to encompass a range of activities, both active and passive, including: recreation, sport and physical activity, games, and social and volunteer activities. The project will also contribute to the development of a ‘reminiscence methodology,’ an innovative approach to data collection, analysis and dissemination that integrates methods from life writing and directed memory work as a means of guiding older adults through the process of co-creating a leisure biography. This approach will reveal knowledge about the meaning of leisure, by elucidating the types of memories that are associated with, and the stories that are told about, leisure by older adults. 

Reducing Senior’s Social Isolation: Linking Community in a Participatory Research Initiative

Amanda Grenier Director, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, Health, Aging and Society , Social Sciences


Led by the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging (Amanda Grenier - PI) and supported by the McMaster Institute for Healthier Environments (James Dunn - Co-I) our project will link community partners and stakeholders – including older people—in a participatory research initiative aimed to reduce social isolation among seniors. Our project is a research initiative to bring community together in order to collectively understand and address social isolation through participatory research. As such, the research and policy project is woven across all aspects of the project in order to build capacity with regards to senior’s social isolation at the community level, work in collaboration to identify the unique nature of social isolation in Hamilton, provide teams with the best available knowledge and research about target audiences, risks, methods and interventions to help combat social isolation of at risk seniors, and guide and facilitate knowledge exchange across sites and projects. Our strong relationships with partners, community, students, and seniors will allow us to discuss emerging data trends as they are identified, and engage in exchanges to improve knowledge translation and dissemination. We will involve seniors, stakeholders, researchers (including students), and partners in all processes, and in doing so facilitate the multi-directional flow of knowledge across audiences.

Website: socialisolation.ca

img socialisolation@mcmaster.ca

Implications of Driving Cessation amongst Canada’s Elderly Living in Rural and Small Urban Communities.

Bruce Newbold Director, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, Science


For older adults, the personal automobile is the preferred travel mode choice. For those older adults in rural areas or small towns were transportation options are more limited, however, aging and driving cessation bring particular challenges. Understanding how the transportation needs and behaviours of Canada's aging population changes according to their specific needs, relative location, and stage in the life course as they age through retirement and approach and complete driving cessation is important. This project brings together leading experts in aging, health, and driving from the Faculties of Science, Social Science, Business, and Health Sciences to:

  1. Examine changing travel behaviours as cessation is approached and completed, with a focus on older adults in rural areas and small towns.
  2. Examine the health, social and economic implications of driving cessation as individuals approach and complete driving cessation in rural areas and small towns.

Meanings of (Im)mobilities: A 'New Mobilities' Perspective

Amanda Grenier Director, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, Health, Aging and Society , Social Sciences

Meridith Griffin Associate Director, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, Health, Aging and Society, Social Sciences


This project unites scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds in social sciences (i.e., social work, social gerontology, kinesiology, health geography), with colleagues from Science and Health Sciences to explore how mobility – and immobility—are conceptualized and understood. The project employs language that combines mobility and immobility as a means of questioning taken for granted assumptions of mobility as static or fixed. An embedded case study design will be used to explore the meanings of (im)mobilities at contrasting locations, employing observations and interviews  (narrative and walk along) to gain a deep appreciation of understandings and experiences. 

Student Proposal for Intellectual Community & Engaged Scholarship (SPICES) Grant

Rachel Weldrick Research Assistant

Stephanie Hatzifilalithis Research Assistant, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging


In our ever-growing technologically-mediated society, there is little formal communication between generations.  In 2010, the Humans of New York (HONY) began as a photography project with the goal of photographing 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and eventually creating a catalogue of the city’s inhabitants. Along the way Brandon Stanton, the creator of HONY, began interviewing his subjects including quotes and/or short stories from their lives alongside their portraits. Brandon then continued to distribute these stories and pictures through social media. HONY has made a great impact around the globe with its simplistic take on everyday life through the images of everyday people on the streets of New York. The images of everyday people on the streets of New York have provided a worldwide audience with a glimpse into the lives of strangers, thus giving rise to the ‘everyday human'. 

 

Following the model of Humans of New York, The Gilbrea Student Group proposed utilizing this medium to combat ageism by portraying older adults “as they are”. This project will hopefully lead to overcoming common age stereotypes including positive/negative binaries that impact the younger generation today regarding the ageing population. This project, Seniors of Canada: Hamilton will serve as an initial pilot project to establish the project, and form relationships with seniors in the metro-Hamilton area. We anticipate this project will provide an outlet for seniors to express themselves in a way that is genuine and free of judgment. It will also serve as a way for their voices to be heard by their community. This SPICES grant will support 3 key events/activities/steps to help us to launch the Seniors of Canada: Hamilton.

Hamilton Aging-in-Community Website Project

Ellen Ryan Professor Emeritus, Health, Aging and Society, Social Sciences


Given the high number of seniors who attend places of worship in Hamilton-Wentworth, Grace Lutheran Church will work in collaboration with the Aging Together group to develop an interactive website to provide tools and resources to faith-community leaders and their care committees so that they can assist their socially isolated seniors, especially those with low income. This Aging-in-Community website project will be informed by and support the Hamilton Age-Friendly Plan and the recently funded multi-agency New Horizons initiative “Hamilton Seniors Isolation Population Impact Plan”. The website will include tools such as the Halton HomeShare Toolkit and links to seniors services and programs in the Hamilton-Wentworth region. Resources will include articles and news blasts concerning alternative housing options and mutual support strategies for seniors. A regular blog will highlight positive experiences in drawing older individuals into an enabling environment. The project builds effectively upon the work of the Burlington Age-Friendly Seniors Council in developing the Halton HomeShare Toolkit for home-sharers and home-seekers to use to identify a good match and to negotiate services in lieu of rent. Working through the existing social ties and ongoing support within faith communities can make for good matches and sustained home-sharing.

Past Research Projects

View past research projects