​Dr. Olga Gajic-Veljanoski et al. wins Plenary Poster and ASBMR Young Investigator Travel Award

On behalf of all co-investigators, Dr. Gajic-Veljanoski, GERAS Post-Doctoral Fellow(second from the left), supported by the HHS Foundation, presented research related to the effects of osteoporotic fractures on frailty progression at this year’s ASBMR meeting in Atlanta, USA.  The study examined changes in rates of frailty over 10 years in a CaMos cohort of women and men aged 50 years and older.

It was found that incident clinical vertebral fractures, in addition to hip fractures, significantly accelerated the progression of frailty, after adjusting for prior fractures and other risk factors for frailty or osteoporosis. The effects of fractures on frailty progression differed between women and men who had no history of fracture. In women without prevalent fractures, a new clinical vertebral fracture had a similar impact as an incident hip fracture. In men without prior fractures, an incident hip fracture had the largest impact on an increase in frailty as compared to incident vertebral or non-hip-non-vertebral fractures.

This research suggests that early prevention of vertebral and hip fractures in older women and men can alleviate the burden of frailty and potentially benefit long-term outcomes such as survival and quality of life. For this research, Dr. Gajic-Veljanoski et al. received a Plenary Poster Award and a ASBMR Young Investigator Travel Award.   

O Gajic-Veljanoski, JD Adachi, C Kennedy, G Ioannidis, C Berger, A Kin On Wong, K Rockwood, S Kirkland, P Raina, L Thabane, A Papaioannou, and the CaMos Research Group. Vertebral fractures have similar impact as hip fractures on the progression of frailty. ASBMR, Sep 14-18, 2016, Atlanta, USA.

OPTimizing Independence, Mobility and Active Life (OPTIMAL)

Research-clinical partnership: GERAS researchers are working with the team of geriatricians, clinic leaders, case managers and nursing staff to integrate best-practices in our Frailty Clinic Initiative –OPTimizing Independence, Mobility and Active Life (OPTIMAL)

Aim: To develop best practices in the assessment and management of frailty at the Centre for Healthy Aging at St. Peter’s Hospital.​

Measurement Components: 

  • Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB)
    • Chair stand test
    • Balance test
    • Walk test
  • Fried Frailty Phenotype
    • Self-report: weight loss, exhaustion, physical activity
    • Grip strength
    • Walk test

Preliminary findings*: In our pilot study, 60% of geriatric outpatients attending the Centre for Healthy Aging at St. Peter’s Hospital were identified as frail with poor lower extremity function.

Rationale:  The development of best practices will help inform individualized treatment plans to optimize independence, mobility and active life in geriatric outpatients.

Components of Success:

  • Strengthened relationships between clinical and research staff
  • Use of evidence-based practice in frailty assessment and management
  • Improved patient outcomes  ​​​

*Measuring frailty in clinical practice: a comparison of physical frailty assessment methods in a geriatric out-patient clinic.
Pritchard JM, Kennedy CC, Karampatos S, Ioannidis G, Misiaszek B, Marr S, Patterson C, Woo T, Papaioannou A. BMC Geriatr. 2017 Nov 13;17(1):264. doi: 10.1186/s12877-017-0623-0.

Artful Moments

Aim: To discover how an arts-based program can facilitate positive engagement in the moment for persons with dementia and their family caregivers. 

Overview: Working collaboratively, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) and Behavioural Health at St. Peter’s Hospital developed an arts based experience that facilitated art appreciation and art making for persons with dementia. These involved exposure to pieces of art, as well as discussions on how the art impacted the individual and their caregivers. 

Intervention Components: In total, eight participants and their family members consented and attended the research educational sessions which took place at the AGH and hospital setting over a one year period.

Results: The program was effective in allowing program staff to determine the duration of a program in order to engage the participants. This allows the participants and their caregivers to enjoy the highest quality of interaction.

Components of Success:

  • Families started to share the art more openly with loved ones.
  • Feelings of joy for both the participants and observers.
  • Staff members from both institutional teams were extremely pleased with the programs results.

Artful Moments now appears in the Canadian Geriatrics Journal. Click here to read more about this exciting project.

Dr. Lora Giangregorio Wins Prestigious Award for Work on Osteoporosis

Congratulations to GERAS Affiliate Scientist, Dr. Lora Giangregorio, for winning the prestigious Bloomberg Manulife Prize for Promotion of Active Health.​

Lora Giangregorio, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Waterloo, will receive the prize worth $50,000 at a ceremony in February for her work on exercise recommendations for people living with osteoporosis. McGill University presents the annual award to a researcher whose work has significant impact on the health and well-being of people in North America. The grant is put towards future research.​

Congrats Dr. Giangregorio!

Read the story on the University of Waterloo website.

Understanding the Educational and Support Needs of Caregivers of Patients Diagnosed with Dementia

Aim: To interview people from all walks of life who care for persons with dementia to understand how they learn about the condition, the challenges they face in accessing services and information, and strategies they’ve developed for resilience.

Overview: A minimum of 18 caregivers were recruited to participate in an interview and 7 healthcare professionals. The participants included caregivers of persons diagnosed with dementia, registered practical nurses (RPNs), case managers, (CMs) and geriatricians.

Results: Our findings will help us to provide the right information and support in the right way at the right time — based on people’s real lived experiences, not just hypotheses.  It’s a privilege to learn from people with such a wealth of wisdom to share, and to see caregiving from the inside out.

Pictured: Medical students Thom Ringer and Matt Wong-Pack

“We’re interviewing people from all walks of life who care for persons with dementia to understand how they learn about the condition, the challenges they face in accessing services and information, and strategies they’ve developed for resilience.  Our findings will help us to provide the right information and support in the right way at the right time — based on people’s real lived experiences, not just hypotheses.  It’s a privilege to learn from people with such a wealth of wisdom to share, and to see caregiving from the inside out.”

Medical Student Receives GERAS Sponsored NGIG Award

Pictured: Aliya Ramjaun and Dr. Andrew Costa

Aliya Ramjaun, a second year medical student at the University of Toronto, was recently awarded the GERAS sponsored NGIG research award for her project on the associations between delirium and age-
specific risk factors evaluated in older emergency department patients.

She obtained a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree at McMaster University and a MSc in Epidemiology at McGill University. Aliya has authored a number of papers already and her research interests include geriatrics, surgical oncology, and medical education. She was awarded the GERAS sponsored National Geriatric Interest Group (NGIG) research award for this project.​

For more information on NGIG click here.

GERAS Research Assistant Wins at 2015 Canadian Geriatrics Society Conference

Thom Ringer, a DeGroote Medical Student at McMaster University and research assistant at The GERAS Centre was awarded the 2015 Willard and Phebe Thompson Award for best student presentation for his work on “Frailty Predicts Degree of Caregiver Burden in Older Adults Attending a Geriatric Outpatient Clinic.”

Thom thanks his colleagues at the GERAS Centre, Hamilton Health Sciences, and the Centre for Healthy Aging at St. Peters, including Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, Dr. Afeez Hazzan, Dr. Janet Pritchard, Dr. Courtney Kennedy, Dr. Christopher Patterson, Dr. Brian Misiaszek, Dr. Sharon Marr, Dr. Tricia Woo, and Sarah Karampatos.

Geriatric Skills Day

In its 7th year, Dr. Tricia Woo, a Geriatrician of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, holds an annual Inter-professional Geriatrics Skills Day workshop for students in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The Geriatric Skills Day workshop is aimed to enrich a student’s exposure to the nuances of the healthcare of aging patients, through learning on the aging process and specialized care strategies in a multidisciplinary environment. The workshops give students an opportunity to engage with geriatric experts, be a part of small group interactive learning, learn clinical approaches to performing geriatric assessments, examination of issues pertaining to the aging process and health, and the special pearls for participating in multidisciplinary patient care.​

Key Messages

  • To train all doctors, nurses, occupational and physiotherapist to work together to care for older adults
  • Over the past 6 years, 300 enthusiastic students from McMaster have taken part in this innovative program
  • The staff at HHS and St Peter’s Hospital are passionate about this program and volunteer and lead the educational seminars
  • The students learn to work together as a team and have the opportunity to interview older adults


  • “Workshops were great, especially the Sexuality & Aging Workshop”
  • “Consider the person and what is important to them”
  • “Respect patient and be vigilant of patients’ needs and risks”
  • “All my skills today will help provide care to older adults”
  • “Learning from other health professionals”
  • “Workshops were incredible – facilitators were passionate”

To learn more, visit the website.

Lavan Sivarajah Receives CFN 2017 Summer Student Award

Lavan Sivarajah, BSc (c)

Congratulations to GERAS Trainee, Lavan Sivarajah, on receiving the Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) Summer Student award.  Lavan has been awarded $4000 for his project titled Nutritional status of frail & pre-frail older adults undergoing hip replacement surgery and its relationship to functional mobility and pain.

This project will examine the pre-operative nutritional status of frail/pre-frail older adults undergoing elective total hip replacement. Studies have consistently shown that malnutrition is associated with adverse outcomes after hip replacement surgery. However, this relationship in patients who are frail/pre-frail is less known. Frail patients, in particular, are at higher risk of malnutrition and could potentially benefit from interventions targeting an improvement in their nutritional status prior to surgery. We hope this study will fill this knowledge gap about the implications of nutrition on function and strength in frail/pre-frail patients undergoing surgery.