New Canada Research Chair to make Trent University International Leader in Rural Aging

Dr. Mark Skinner receives $500,000 to debunk myths of aging in rural communities.

Dr. Mark Skinner, a professor of Geography at Trent University, has been named Canada 9research chair (CRC) in rural aging, health, and social care, in an official announcement made today by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of science.

Professor Skinner, a leading international authority on the evolving role of voluntarism in aging rural communities, will receive a total of $500,000 over five years to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities of aging in rural and remote regions of Canada, and to help create supportive environments for healthy rural aging.

"I want to debunk myths about rural aging; to challenge the idea that older people are vulnerable and dependent, and that rural communities are declining and not resilient,” said Prof. Skinner, who is also founding director of the Trent Centre for Aging and Society. "The essence of my work is on understanding the role of the voluntary sector and volunteers in providing a continuum of care and support for older people in rural communities."

"This CRC, the first affiliated with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research funding council, is an investment in Trent, so we can build research capacity around rural aging and health, improve our research-informed teaching, and support graduate students in order to create the next generation of rural aging scholars," explained Dr. Neil Emery, vice-president Research & Innovation."Professor Skinner’s research focus on social determinants of health, and his strong research integration with community initiatives centered on aging and society will make Trent University an international leader in rural aging studies.”

“The issues associated with Canada's aging population are more acute in rural areas than in urban centres," said Prof. Skinner in explaining the importance of his community-based research. "Rural communities have higher proportions of older people, they are considered underserviced in formal services, and they rely more on volunteers and informal types of care."

In addition to understanding the dynamics of rural aging, Prof. Skinner's research objectives include contributing to informed policy on health and social care, and enhancing community responses to aging.

Prof. Skinner intends to work locally in collaboration with the Trent Centre for Aging and Society. "The Centre has a mandate to provide a critical perspective on aging and to be responsive to issues facing aging communities, such as Peterborough," he said. "We'll be able to work closely with our community partners in the region, not only to test some of the best ideas from around the world but to develop and promote local initiatives to create momentum for working on rural aging issues."

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