This guest post was contributed by Dr Alan J. Gow, Associate Professor in Psychology at the School of Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University
What keeps you sharp?
That’s an important question for many of us, especially as we get older. It was also the name of a nationwide survey exploring what people expect to happen to their thinking skills as they get older, and the first results from this have just been released.
Over 3000 people across the UK responded to the survey, aged from 40 to 98 years old, and we’ve published these findings in a new report, ‘What Keeps You Sharp?’. Aimed at the public, older peoples’ groups, charities and health professionals, our intention is to help everyone think about their brain health in the same way we’ve become more knowledgeable over recent generations about managing our heart health or lowering our risk of certain cancers.
This blog was contributed by James Goodwin, Age UK’s Chief Scientist.
Recently, I received the sad news of the death of a dear friend and colleague who through his example, leadership and support had helped to change the course of my career. Dr Ken Collins, a notable researcher and physician of old age medicine was instrumental in evoking my interest in ageing, at a crucial time in my life. Our meeting was as fortuitous as it was timely, a truly serendipitous moment. Through it, he began my life-long dedication to ageing science but more so, he implanted the priceless notion that we must go beyond the simple necessity of high quality research – vital though that is – and seek to generate impact, to change society in its approach, in its thinking and in its behaviour, so that genuine benefits accrue to older people. Continue reading “Science and Serendipity”
Over 10 million people in the UK currently live with pain and disability due to musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis or fractures due to osteoporosis. The NHS annual budget for these diseases is over £5 billion per annum and musculoskeletal conditions are the leading cause of disability in the UK and globally.
The majority of these diseases develop with age and the resulting pain, stiffness and loss of mobility can impact every aspect of a person’s life. Simple tasks can become difficult because they require dexterity of hands and wrists, and the ability to reach up or bend down. It’s not surprising that people with musculoskeletal conditions are four times more likely to develop depression.
This guest blog was contributed by Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, Professor of Social Policy and International Development at the University of East Anglia.
These days there are more and more surveys collecting large amounts of data about the lives of older people, as well as everyone else in society. As a researcher, I know we sometimes don’t make the best use of these surveys, preferring to collect our own data to meet our particular needs and interests. The problem is that designing surveys, gathering information and making sure it is fit for purpose is both expensive and time-consuming. This is why the main government funder of social research, the Economic and Social Research Council, has set up a new programme to promote better use of what is already out there –they call this “Secondary data analysis”.
Of the 58 projects currently funded by this new scheme, 12 are particularly concerned with older people, with interests ranging from pensions, to loneliness and cold-related deaths. Initial findings from these different studies were recently presented at Age UK in London. We have a series of policy briefs in production and are hoping these will be available on the Age UK websitein the next few weeks. The Economic and Social Research Council are now commissioning the next set of secondary data analysis projects, and hopefully older people’s interests will be just as well represented second time around.