Geriatric Medicine

This program area is dedicated to improving medical care for seniors living in the community and in retirement and long-term care settings. The primary goal is to help older adults proactively manage frailty and chronic diseases to improve their quality of life, and reduce the need for emergency room visits, hospitalization and pressures on long-term care.

Geriatric-MedicinePractical Applications

  • Investigating medical issues that primarily affect older adults, including frailty in the elderly, in order to improve quality of life.
  • Improving the delivery of health care to seniors in community and retirement and long-term care settings through the development of evidence-based programs.
  • Collaborating with community agencies and services to develop an integrated model of health care for seniors.

Project Highlights

  • Improving heart failure care for seniors in long-term care.
  • Evaluating how pain is assessed in long-term care to determine if pain can be more efficiently monitored and managed.
  • Creating interdisciplinary pain management programs.
  • Developing a multidisciplinary approach to memory care and providing community memory clinics in retirement/long-term care homes.
  • Developing recommendations for the management of heart failure in long-term care and informing the Canadian Cardiovascular Society‚Äôs heart failure guidelines.


Theme Leader/Chair
Dr. George Heckman, MD (Schlegel Research Chair in Geriatric Medicine, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo)

Research Scientists
Sharon Kaasalainen, PhD (McMaster University)
Thomas Hadjistavropolus, PhD (University of Regina)
Joseph Lee, MD (The Centre for Family Medicine)
Linda Lee, MD (The Centre for Family Medicine)
Ramesh Zacharias, MD (Schlegel Villages)

Additional Information

In 2009, the University of Waterloo and three funding partners announced the appointment of a renowned geriatric medicine specialist to a new research Chair position that will usher in enhanced health care for seniors in the local area and eventually across Canada.

The University of Waterloo, together with Ron Schlegel, the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, introduced Dr. George Heckman, who specializes in aging and cardiovascular disease, as the Schlegel Research Chair in Geriatric Medicine. An investment of over $1 Million supports the Chair and his team as they conduct research to improve the delivery of health care to seniors in Waterloo Region and Wellington County. With this appointment and initial investment, RIA’s geriatric medicine research theme area was born. While much of the research in this theme area is focused on Dr. Heckman’s research program, the RIA works collaboratively with other researchers to investigate medical issues that have an impact on the lives of seniors.

The Research Chair collaborates with the WWLHIN to develop an integrated model of health care for seniors. This work covers an inventory of current services to identify barriers and potential solutions for their integration, along with developing a list of senior-focused health initiatives. As well, the integrated health-care approach will provide learning opportunities for health sciences students, nursing students, and medical residents and students.