Seniors Month message from executive director Josie d’Avernas

Dear friends,  

As I prepare to leave a fulfilling and busy career and look forward to more free time to be actively engaged in life in different ways, I reflect on RIA’s growth, impact, and promise for the future. 

A bright light for the RIA in 2020 was the completion of our unique-in-the-world infrastructure: a purpose-built hub for collaboration and a vibrant community that integrates senior living with research, education, and community services. The retirement residence welcomed its first residents, our new neighbours, completing a full continuum of living, learning and research. We also added another 3 floors to the RIA building to accommodate a growing team of researchers and knowledge mobilizers. 

In 2015, RIA’s research team numbered eight.  Today our research team numbers 34 (10 Research Chairs, 4 Specialists and 20 Research Scientists). Our staff team of 12 has grown to over 30, not only working alongside the research team generating new best practices, but also leading knowledge mobilization projects in key areas such as dementia and workforce development. 

This rapid growth is because our work is necessary, it is important and it is being noticed.

If there is one silver lining coming from the last 15 months of heart-wrenching stories of loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that the world’s attention is finally focused on the inequities of being an older adult, driving an urgency and will for change like never before.   I count myself in the category of older adult and with that comes a fear that my value to society will no longer be recognized.  I am afraid that I will be overlooked or undervalued when important decisions are made that affect me, but do not include me. I am afraid that the services and systems that I may need will not be there for me.

I believe that research can and must drive innovation towards a world where every older adult, regardless of health, ability or living environment, not only survives but thrives. I believe that research will find those innovative programs, services and system changes, or create them where they don’t yet exist. I believe that research-driven innovation is the only way to do this efficiently, because the research process separates truly impactful changes from those that reflect the “flavour of the month” and those that are heavily marketed but poorly substantiated.

Our work is more relevant now than ever, and with your help, we can do more. 

As an innovation institute fuelled by research, the RIA is ideally positioned to drive change – change that combats ageism and transforms complicated health systems that confuse and marginalize older adults and put their health at risk. 

Help us make lasting change, based on research, to improve the lives of older adults everywhere.  Donate today.

Sincerely, 

Josie d’Avernas