McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

'Thinking Ahead' on optimal aging

By Sue Johnston
Published: April 1, 2014
Steven Hoffman
Steven Hoffman, assistant professor, Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics

McMaster’s efforts to become an authoritative voice on optimal aging will be in the spotlight this week at two panel discussions featuring a roster of well-known speakers.

The public events are part of a larger initiative, Thinking Ahead: How We Can Better Support Optimal Aging in Canada Using the Best Available Research Evidence, which focuses on how we communicate with, engage and support Canada’s aging population. The initiative includes a two-day symposium for invited participants who are working directly in the field of aging.

Thinking Ahead has been organized by the McMaster Health Forum, and is funded by the Labarge Charitable Foundation in conjunction with University’s Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative.

On April 2, the idea of second and extended careers — and why they are becoming more common — will be examined at a panel discussion moderated by Steve Paikin of TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at McMaster Innovation Park.

Featured speakers include individuals such as Sherry Cooper, former chief economist with Bank of Montreal; Ian Thomas, who has been a successful performer for more than 40 years; and Brian Williams, well-known sports broadcaster. They will share their views and advice on how they have remained successful for decades.

Rounding out the panel will be Samir Sinha, the expert lead for Ontario’s Seniors Strategy, and Parminder Raina, the McMaster researcher who is leading the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Both have expertise in the overall subject of how to keep older adults healthy and active for as long as possible.

Topics to be addressed during the panel discussion will include how increased longevity has brought changes to the traditional workforce, the many positive benefits of extending workforce participation for older adults and the misconceptions that exist about an aging workforce.

On April 3, a second panel discussion will examine the importance of being aware of the evidence — or lack of evidence — related to health-related claims by celebrities. Julia Belluz, a journalist with The Medical Post and Maclean’s who is currently a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will moderate the discussion by a panel of medical professionals, journalists and McMaster researcher Steven Hoffman.

Panellists includes Yoni Freedhoff — a physician who writes the blog Weighty Matters and a column for The Huffington Post, and whose book The Diet Fix was recently a top 10 hit on Amazon.ca — and André Picard, a public health reporter at The Globe and Mail who has written two best-selling books on healthcare topics.

The medical and cultural implications of celebrity advice that conflicts with research evidence and recommendations from health professionals will be among the topics addressed by the panel.

Hoffman authored a publication that was published in the British Medical Journal in December, examining why so many people follow medical advice from celebrities when much of it can be ill-informed and potentially harmful.

The second panel will also be held at McMaster Innovation Park from 7 to 8:30 p.m., which offers plenty of free parking on site at 175 Longwood Rd. S. All are welcome to attend the events, which are also free of charge.

For those who cannot attend in person, live webstreaming will be available. Click here to view a list of speakers for each event, and details on how to access the webstreaming service.

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