With today’s emphasis on healthy activity at any age, can you imagine a time when seniors were told NOT to exercise?
In 1982, as a Fellow at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged’s Research and Training Institute, I wanted to study the effect of weight-lifting exercise in seniors. Initially, I couldn’t get human subject protection approval for this research – exercise was considered too dangerous for older adults. Ultimately, I got the approval, and we went on to demonstrate that not only is this exercise safe for seniors, it’s beneficial – even the oldest old can build muscle strength through weight training. Today, exercise programs are routinely found in many nursing homes, senior living communities, and senior service organizations around the world.
That Research and Training Institute is now called the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife. The story about seniors and exercise is just one of the many ways that IFAR research has led to changes in the way that we think about and treat seniors. IFAR scientists are challenging conventional wisdom about aging, resulting in new standards of care that significantly and positively impact the lives of seniors.
This year, IFAR celebrates its 50th anniversary. We’ve grown to become one of the largest gerontological research facilities in the U.S. in a clinical setting. We’re an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and our research portfolio ranks us in the top 15% of NIH-funded institutions in the U.S. A number of generous philanthropists have and continue to support IFAR, especially the work of young researchers who depend on private funding to begin new projects.
I’m proud to work with top researchers in the field, along with the next generation of investigators who come here for training. Together, we study some of the most common conditions associated with aging, including osteoporosis, fractures, falls, dementia, delirium, and more.
We’ve accomplished so much since 1965, so what’s in store for the next 50 years? Watch our video to find out, then visit our website to learn more about IFAR’s impact.