Saskatchewan is a unique province. Considered to be the birthplace of universal health care and socialism in Canada, the province now boasts the oldest population in the country. With 15 percent of Saskatchewanians over the age of 65, compared to 14 percent nationwide, this poses significant health challenges.
Shanthi Johnson is working to solve these health issues through improving functional capacity and preventing falls in seniors in community and long-term care settings. Johnson is a professor and associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies and is also on the research faculty with the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit.
"Building on my background in nutrition, kinesiology and gerontology, my research focuses on preventing falls in seniors and keeping them healthy as long as possible," explains Johnson. "In Canada, we know that one in three seniors over 65 years of age falls each year and this number goes up to one in two for those over 80 years of age."
The cost of these falls to the Canadian health-care system is growing and is currently estimated at $6.2 billion annually.
"And that doesn't account for the psychological and human cost that comes from falls and injuries," emphasizes Johnson.
Given its demographics, Saskatchewan is a perfect place for Johnson to conduct her research and develop solutions that will make a real impact in the lives of Saskatchewan seniors.
"You can save a lot of lives and cost," says Johnson. "Having a high percentage of seniors in the community helps with the recruitment of research participants so we can learn about the issues they face, and implement practical solutions."
Through her interdisciplinary research, Johnson is providing information for practitioners and policy makers to create evidence-based strategies that can be applied broadly at the provincial, national and international levels.
"The University of Regina offers a wonderful opportunity to work with various seniors, colleagues, and community partners in Regina, throughout Canada, and around the world."
"The University is small enough to provide individualized attention but large enough - and experienced enough - to create these great opportunities for students who come here to learn, for faculty, and for community members who we are constantly engaged with. It's a win-win situation."
For more information on Shanthi Johnson's research, visit http://www.uregina.ca/kinesiology/faculty?id=11