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

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

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.

Homelessness in late life: Growing old on the streets, in shelters and long-term care

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

** Project was completed in 2016**

This project explores the growing issue of homelessness amongst sub-groups of older adults. Recent policy reforms intended to address the 'greying' of the Canadian population have overlooked the issue of older homelessness, subsequently leaving the needs of older homeless people unattended in both housing policy and age-related social programs. The research undertaken provides insight into the intersections between aging and homelessness, uncovering the complex challenges it poses to policy-makers and service providers in the fields of housing, social planning and long-term care. Guided by a critical perspective, homelessness is investigated at the levels of social programming and individual experience to provide insight into 4 lines of inquiry: late life challenges; changing relationships to place and space in cities and shelters; implications of impairment with regards to long-term care; and the influence of economic resources in late-life trajectories. This research is being carried out in consultation with three organizations in Montreal, and is intended to contribute to the existing body of knowledge in both social gerontology and social work, as well as provide direction for the development of specialized policies and programs for Canada's older homeless population. 


Technology for Optimal Aging: Automobile innovations on the lived experience of older drivers, their mobility, and social policy

Jessica Gish Contractually Limited Appointment (CLA) Faculty, Health, Aging and Society, Social Sciences

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

Antonio Páez Associate Professor, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, Science

Brenda Vrkljan Associate Professor, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Health Sciences

**Project was completed 2016**

Technology is advancing at an astonishing speed. The context of the automobile provides an opportunity to examine how in-vehicle systems might shape driving practices of older drivers and their perceptions of 'growing older.' Drawing on our interdisciplinary expertise (Geography, Social Science, Rehabilitation Science), this project aims to gather a more comprehensive picture of the following:

  • Capture the actual experiences and practices of older people who drive a high-tech car
  • Understand older driver's use of mobility and space
  • Examine legislation and policies targeting older drivers

This first stage of the project will update a scoping review by Vrkljan and Polgar (2005) and Vrkljan et al, (2010) that examined the effectiveness of in-vehicle technologies to meet the needs and safety concerns of older drivers. This scoping review will set the stage for conducting interviews with older drivers about their use of this technology in the later components of the study. 

International Network for Critical Gerontology

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

The International Network for Critical Gerontology brings together international scholars and graduate students interested in critical approaches to the study of aging and late life. Based at McMaster University in Canada, this virtual network links international scholars from various disciplinary perspectives in the humanities and social sciences. It provides a forum to consider contemporary issues in social/cultural gerontology, reflect on theoretical and conceptual questions in the field, and discuss new insights and developments.

img info@criticalgerontology.com 


Visualizing dementia: Using photovoice to document and understand southern Labrador Inuit experiences with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders

Jessica Pace Post Doctoral Fellow, Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, Social Sciences

This project is a community-based, participatory research project which seeks to understand how southern Labrador Inuit people perceive transitions between normal aging and dementia and how these perceptions impact prevention, help-seeking, early intervention and service use in southeastern Labrador. The project uses photovoice to highlight community experiences and concerns related to cognitive health in old age and to identify community strengths and challenges in identifying and coping with dementia. Jessica's research aims to draw attention to local knowledge, beliefs and behaviours relayed to transitions between healthy aging and dementia with the goal of improving the ability of health care providers and other organizations to provide culturally safe care to this group, resulting in earlier interventions and improved care practices and health outcomes. 

The Impact of Digital Technology on First Nations Participation and Governance

Chelsea Gabel Assistant Professor , Health, Aging and Society, Social Sciences

The goal of this project is to understand the impact of digital technology on political participation and governance in First Nation communities in Ontario. The project brings together a unique collaboration of academic, community, government, non-government and industry partners who have knowledge and expertise in Aboriginal politics, First Nation communities, Internet voting and e-democracy, civic and electoral engagement. All partners in this project are eager to develop insights and strategies for harnessing digital technologies to enhance participation and the quality of governance for First Nation communities. We will leverage this partnership to address substantial gaps in our knowledge of First Nations participation, citizen engagement, governance, and the impact of digital technology.

Past Research Projects

View past research projects