Research Axes

Our research program consists of five research axes, one of which intersects with the other four. These axes are part of ongoing research activities at CREGÉS, but also reflect new approaches and issues raised by new members, including several young researchers.

Research Axis 1 | Seniors as Social Actors

This research axis aims to build the capacity of older adults to foster their resilience and well-being. Seniors are not seen as a clientele to be served, but rather as active participants in the aging process. Their roles in society are recognized and reinforced. The social participation of older adults becomes a driving force in community development. This research axis also considers the importance of promoting personal development and strengthening intergenerational ties. Aging is viewed as a process of ongoing learning rather than one of gradual loss. This research axis studies the role of leisure in resilience, the promotion of intergenerational relationships, and ways to counter stigmatization. It also seeks to understand how seniors communicate and embrace new technologies in order to strengthen their ties with family, friends and the community.

Research Axis 2 | Heterogeneity of Aging: Bodies, Identities and Society

Society tends to have a reductive and over-simplified view of aging. On the one hand, aging is associated with decline, illness and dependency. On the other, it is synonymous with the “golden years,” characterized by consumer habits and behaviours aimed at preserving youth, and a strong denial of negative images associated with aging. This research axis aims to put these stereotypes into perspective by examining the multiple ways in which people age and experience aging, highlights the diverse ways in which individuals perceive their own aging process and that of others, as well as the many ties between age and living environments. Diversity is also central to practices, since various factors (e.g., gender, socioeconomic status, health status, ethnic origin, LGBT, HIV status, etc.) shape one’s identity are closely tied to the aging body. These dimensions need to be taken into account by those providing services to older adults.

Research Axis 3 | Service Delivery to Seniors and their relatives and friends

As a university-affiliated centre, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal is required to deliver quality services. This research axis contributes innovative modes of service delivery aimed at supporting practice and evaluating current modes of delivery in the community and in health and social service institutions. A number of topics are examined, including older adults mistreatment, mental health issues, chronic diseases, cognitive aging and palliative care. Based on a social gerontological approach, services provided by our establishments should be aimed not only at clinical recovery, but also at adaptation, integration and the increased participation of older adults. The projects also consider other social issues tied to service delivery, including the socioeconomic context of informal caregivers. Given the diverse range of aging experiences and promotion of customized service plans, a partnership framework seems most appropriate. This type of framework involves recognizing users’ expertise by sharing opinions, better understanding users’ needs, sharing power, and carrying out social and clinical interventions.

Research Axis 4 | Living Environments

At both the national and provincial levels, the development of guidelines and public services rest on the policy that older adults are best off living at home. These guidelines are also based on the notion that the environment in which seniors receive care creates a sense of belonging and comfort. This research axis takes a critical view of idealized notions of a home environment in light of the interpersonal dynamics and rules and regulations that may exist in living environments. The goal is to understand how experiences of aging not only depend on the physical structures in which seniors live, but also on interpersonal exchanges and personal care. This research axis also looks at the capacity of local environments to support older adults. Living environments are examined according to various health problems such as dementia, HIV and cancer, as well as a variety of individual or social characteristics.

Transversal Research Axis | Public Policy

This research axis looks at the development of public policy and dissemination of knowledge to contribute to public debates in social gerontology. Projects in this research axis examine the generosity, coverage, autonomy and sustainability of social gerontology policies, which are often subject to political and socioeconomic factors such as the power of groups representing seniors, differences between social classes, governments’ fiscal capacity and long-term structural factors. Social constructions are key, because these have an impact on the development of policy and the choice of instruments used, such as tax credits or benefit payments subject to a means test (Axis 2). Public policy are increasingly geared towards keeping seniors at home and having municipalities play a more active role (e.g., the Age-Friendly Cities Project). These initiatives raise many interesting questions—for example, what being at home means to older adults and the fiscal capacity of municipalities to implement senior-friendly policies in the Canadian context (Axis 4). Finally, service delivery to seniors is carried out in tandem with a multitude of public, private and community stakeholders who often have very different objectives. This raises a number of governance-related questions (Axis 3).