Elderly woman smiling

Director’s Message

A message from Lia E. Tsotsos, Director of Sheridan's Centre for Elder Research

To our valued Centre for Elder Research community,

The Merriam-Webster dictionary recently declared that the word of 2023 was ‘authentic’. As I reflect on 2023 at the Centre, I feel like their choice is an apt one for us as well. So much of what we do, and the ways in which we strive to make an impact, depends on authenticity both in terms of its use as a counter to ‘fake’ or ‘not real’, and its use to signal being true to oneself. Research is arguably meaningless if it can’t be considered true, real, or authentic in many ways, and that, in and of itself, is a hallmark of our Centre’s identity.

It was, however, a challenge to do this authentic work against the backdrop of so many difficulties facing our local communities and the entire world this past year. While still trying to regain a true sense of normalcy after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also dealing with the tragedies of multiple global conflicts, the impacts of inflation and housing shortages on daily life, and lasting changes to our climate that affect health and well-being in their own ways. These all contribute to a feeling, at least for me, that it’s not enough for us to go back to ‘business as usual’. We must commit to new, more impactful ways of designing, conducting and sharing our research to have maximal impacts on the participants, on our partners, and on the complex networks of communities and supporters that empower the work in the first place.

So, in keeping with this goal of authenticity and multiple impacts, we’ve chosen to share a request alongside this holiday greeting. We were very fortunate to recently receive funding from the federal government to explore the multifaceted contributors that result in food insecurity among older adults. We’ve all heard that food bank use is at an all-time high, and our partners on this project, Knights Table and Food for Life are doing tremendous work to keep up with demand. Our humble request this season is that you consider how you might be able to support these organizations, or equivalent ones that are more local to you, in the coming year. Support can be financial, but can also be in the gift of time, talent, or even just continuing to talk about the issues within your circles. While this request is specific to food insecurity, it really can be much broader; just as we design our work to result in meaningful, tangible outputs that are actionable, so too can each of you make meaningful contributions to causes that you care about. We encourage you to take authentic steps in this direction in whatever way makes sense for you, and know that we’re doing it right alongside you.

In my remarks at the Centre’s 20th anniversary celebration in September I said that when I first connected with the Centre I’d never seen anything quite like it. I still haven’t. I’m so proud of the team and everything they bring to the table every day and am honoured to have the opportunity to guide us on this journey. Thank you to you all for your support of what we do – cheers to our milestone year, cheers to everything you all do to make your communities a better place, and cheers to a happy and healthy 2024!

With my best wishes to you and yours this holiday season,

Dr. Lia Tsotsos
Director, Centre for Elder Research

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