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An Interview With Rachel Weldrick — Postdoctoral Fellow
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve recently completed my PhD in Social Gerontology at McMaster University and am thrilled to be joining the AIRP team. At my core, I’m a social scientist and a gerontologist. When I’m not working, I spend a lot of time reading… mostly fantasy and science fiction, but some non-fiction as well. I also spend a lot of time on my beloved gravel bike. It’s basically an extension of my body. This interest in biking has led me to volunteer with my local cycling advocacy organization over the past 4 years, where we advocate for a safer and more accessible city. I’m an animal lover and enjoy filling my camera roll with photos of our cats, Gandalf & Kahlua, sitting in our back garden.
What current research are you working on?
I’m currently working on a few interesting pieces of research. First, I’m working on a project that’s re-conceptualizing what we know (and think we know) about social isolation and social inclusion in long-term care homes. This work is also tying into a larger project on age-friendly and age-optimizing communities that promote “healthy” aging for all people. Alongside the AIRP team, I’m working on a piece to develop a framework for aging-in-the-right-place that includes relevant indicators for older people with experiences of homelessness. Lastly, I’m working on a little side-project examining the intersection of age-friendly communities and active transportation.
What do you most enjoy about working with the AIRP?
I love working with the AIRP for countless reasons. My experience thus far has been wonderful, and every member of the team has been incredibly welcoming. The AIRP project is comprised of passionate and hardworking people, all of whom are deeply invested in what they do. It’s a privilege to work with this team.
What inspired you to study aging/gerontology?
I started my academic career in psychology but pivoted to gerontology after completing my undergraduate studies. My attention was drawn to the astonishing rates of social isolation and exclusion among older people in certain areas. I realized how ignorant I had been to the needs of the older population… and how many of those needs were not being met. In some ways my entry into gerontology as a scholar was a selfish endeavor. I don’t want to be left behind or forced to the margins in my later years. Why should anyone else? There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done and I hope to be part of it.
What are your goals for your time at the AIRP?
I have a number of goals that I’m hoping to achieve in my time at the AIRP. I hope to join a vast network of talented people across Canada working to both end homelessness and ensure aging with dignity and wellness for all people. I hope to learn from this network and contribute to the emerging body of literature on aging in the right place. I also hope to engage in some creative knowledge mobilization efforts to share the fantastic work being done by this team.