STU hires Health Research Chair in Community Health and Aging

Albert Banerjee has done research on health and aging at nursing homes in Bali, Germany, Sweden and Norway. In the fall, his research will bring him to Fredericton, where he’ll be the Health Research Chair in Community Health and Aging at St. Thomas University.

The university announced Banerjee was hired in early March. The McCain Foundation and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation provided $1 million in funding for the position, which will be used during the next five years for research.

Banerjee will teach gerontology classes and continue his research in community health and aging.

“I think the idea for the research chair was to really bring someone with research experience on health and aging into the department of gerontology. And to add health and aging to the courses of gerontology,” said Banerjee.

Banerjee is a research associate at the Trent Centre for Aging and Society in Ontario. He is also involved in a research project, the Imagining Age-Friendly “Communities within Communities”: An International Study of Promising Practices, as a co-investigator. This project started in June and involves six countries Australia, Taiwan, Germany, Norway, New Zealand and Canada. Thirteen cities are involved including Halifax, Copenhagen, Toronto and Melbourne. Fredericton was not formally part of the project because the project’s researchers didn’t have connections to the city, but as chair, Banerjee will be changing this.

He thinks adding Fredericton to this global conversation on aging will be interesting.

“A lot of cities are trying to think about what age-friendly means and who is and who is not being included.”

In his travelling and research, he found there are similarities and differences between cultures when it comes to aging and health.

“Sweden and Scandinavia have such different approaches to care,” he said. “They’re very well funded. They’re much more collectively organized. So there’s a lot we can learn from them.”

Aside from his trips to nursing homes in different countries, he’ll head to India in a couple of weeks to do follow up interviews on his research on meditation and yoga.

The Imagining Age-Friendly “Communities within Communities”: An International Study of Promising Practices is set to be completed in seven years and is funded by a partnership grant with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. This leaves a lot of time for research and getting to know the Fredericton community.

“I think the purpose of the research project I’m involved in is to meet and connect with seniors and people that are involved in providing supports for older people,” he said.

Banerjee said he hopes to learn what an inclusive age-friendly city looks like for the aging population in Fredericton.

“Hopefully in seven years we’ll have some answers from this research and answers from the voices of people in Fredericton.”

With files from Haley Stairs

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