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The impact of global ageing

Robert Boyle Summer School Saturday 6th July 11:30 am. Rose Anne Kenny Trinity College Dublin.

Population ageing will have a profound and pervasive effect on global society in the future. In 1993, one out of every ten persons in the world was aged 60 or over.  Projections indicate that by 2050 this ratio will be one in five. Children being born now can expect longer, healthier lives than their grandparents. This transformation poses formidable challenges: how to sustain an adequate standard of living and quality of life for older people, and to provide services and facilities while ensuring their effectiveness and sustainability.

Even in Europe there are significant differences in life expectancy and the amount of time after 60 spent in good health- Healthy Life Years (HLYs). Understanding the causes of such cross national differences is fundamental if we are to  maximise the duration of healthy old age.  The analyses required range at the molecular level to public health issues; from genes, biomarkers and neurological sciences, to social, behavioural and environmental factors.  Some major studies from these areas in which Trinity has been involved will be described, eg. the Irish longitudinal study on ageing (TILDA).  The study examines a huge popuation of those over 50 to address the many causal pathways for ageing. It is expected it will help develop public health policy, and international partnerships, as well as and foster opportunities for Irish SMEs. TILDA will inform the proposed vision for the new European policy for health, ‘Health 2020’ supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).