New resource provides trusted information on optimal aging

A newly developed McMaster University resource aims to become the go-to place for Canadian citizens, clinicians, public health professionals and policymakers to access evidence-based information on optimal aging.

The McMaster Health Forum is a key contributor to the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, being launched on October 1 in conjunction with Canada’s National Seniors Day as well as the United Nations International Day of Older Persons. The new resource will serve as a trusted voice to guide choices on matters related to healthy aging.

The Portal brings together research evidence about clinical, public health and health systems questions, and presents it in various ways to convey the key messages from the research, how trustworthy it is, and how it can be acted upon. It also includes links to a wide range of other online resources that have been rated for quality.

With the continual growth in the number of older adults, one of Canada’s most pressing health and social policy issues is the support and care of our aging population. The Portal has been designed to make the best scientific evidence on how we can stay healthy, active and engaged as we grow older, and manage our health conditions, easily accessible and understandable to a broad range of individuals.

 “There are many other online resources available that deal with health and aging, but what sets the Optimal Aging Portal apart from the crowd is its emphasis on providing only the best evidence, and telling you why it’s considered the best,” said John Lavis, director of the McMaster Health Forum. “The Portal filters out the noise and makes it easy to understand how scientific evidence and other types of information can help you.”

The Portal is free and easy to use, and includes several types of content designed specifically for the general public, as well as content for clinical, public health and policy professionals.

Content for citizens include:

  • Web Resource Ratings, evaluations that tell you whether free resources on the internet are based on scientific research;
  • Evidence Summaries that provide key messages from research that’s ready to be acted on; and
  • Blog Posts, commentaries that tell you what the scientific research on a topic actually means and why good science matters.

For professionals, the Portal puts in one place the best available scientific evidence about optimal aging and common health conditions, by drawing on three best-in-class resources that provide answers to questions about clinical, public health or health policymaking topics.

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal was created by a team of researchers at McMaster as part of the University’s aim to become a leading authority in Canada on optimal aging. The Portal is supported by Suzanne Labarge, who is the current chancellor of McMaster and has a keen interest in ensuring the public has access to information that can promote healthy aging, in order to help individuals make informed decisions. In 2012 she donated $10 million to the University to establish the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative.

The Portal has already gained the support of Canada’s Minister of State for Seniors, Alice Wong.

“I congratulate McMaster University for developing the Optimal Aging Portal, an invaluable resource on healthy aging which is also easily accessible through the Government of Canada’s website,” she said. “By combining our efforts, we can maximize results to make a lasting difference in the lives of seniors, caregivers, and their families.”