May 9, 2023

'Think about how many years you can still devote to whatever it is you're passionate about'

Top 7 Over 70 award winner Bonnie Kaplan shares her wisdom; 2023 nominations open until June 14
Bonnie Kaplan and Dave Kelly on stage at the Top7 over 70 Awards Gala in May 2022
Bonnie Kaplan and Dave Kelly on stage at the Top 7 Over 70 Awards Gala in May 2022. Top 7 Over 70

When Dr. Bonnie J. Kaplan, PhD, was named a Top 7 Over 70 award winner in 2021, she was taken aback.

“I was really stunned. When I looked at the field of people over 70 who have been major movers and shakers in Calgary, I didn't even understand why I was nominated!” Kaplan says. “I was very, very humbled.”

Those who are familiar with her work won’t be surprised — the Cumming School of Medicine professor emerita has had a remarkable career. For many years, Kaplan studied the role of nutrition in mental illness and brain development. Since stepping into semi-retirement Kaplan hasn’t slowed down, and she received the Top 7 Over 70 award for her recent accomplishments in education and advocacy.

The Top 7 Over 70 awards were founded by Jim Gray, a renowned Calgarian and philanthropist, who noticed a lack of awards programs for seniors, especially given the amount of awards dedicated to praising younger age groups.

The awards recognize Albertans for new projects they’ve taken on over the age of 70, as opposed to focusing on their prior achievements and entire body of work. It’s an opportunity to celebrate older adults and their important contributions to society.

“The Top 7 Over 70 awards are a wonderful way to recognize the contributions of leaders in our community, whose work is often overlooked when we’re commending the latest-and-greatest projects,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research). “I encourage the UCalgary community to look at the people over 70 in your lives and what they’re up to — we have many professors emeriti active in our community, like Bonnie — and consider nominating them for an award.”

Bonnie Kaplan, Top 7 over 70 award winner

Bonnie Kaplan, Top 7 Over 70 award winner.

Top 7 Over 70

As retirement approached, Kaplan knew she wasn’t done with her research just yet. She was driven to get what she had learned into the hands of people who needed it most.

“I sat around before I retired and thought, what in the world am I going to do?” she says. “I thought, 'I've just got to make sure that people are learning about the importance of nutrition for mental health resilience and for prevention of dementia.'”

Kaplan’s co-authored best-selling book, The Better Brain: Overcome Anxiety, Combat Depression and Reduce ADHD and Stress with Nutrition, outlines the latest research about nutrition for mental health and a comprehensive program for better brain health. Kaplan has given over 140 lectures since the book came out, in pursuit of her goal of “waking up the populace” to the research she pursued for decades.

How would Kaplan respond if someone told her they were “too old” to start a new project? “If they have the energy and the passion? Don't be ridiculous,” she says. “Forget the number of years you’ve lived on earth. Think about how many years you can still devote to whatever it is you're passionate about.”

Nominations open until June 14

Any individual who is over 70 and lives in Calgary or its surrounding communities is eligible to be nominated for a Top 7 Over 70 Award. Ideal nominees are those who have started something different or new, or implemented a new venture or idea, after age 70.

Awards will honour individuals 70 and over who have achieved excellence, inspired creativity, shaped innovation, and/or organized outstanding collaboration in one or more of the following areas:

  • Health, Wellness and Recreation
  • Arts and Culture
  • Business
  • Volunteerism/Philanthropy
  • Environment
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Making a Difference

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit the Top 7 Over 70 website

Bonnie Kaplan is a professor emerita with the departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. She is an emerita member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

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