Title of project or programme
Title of PI Maintaining function and well-being in later life: A longitudinal cohort study
Principal Investigators of project/programme grant
Title Forname Surname Institution Country
Professor Robert Woods Bangor University UK
Address of institution of lead PI
Institution Bangor University
Street Address
City Bangor
Postcode LL57 2AS
Country
  • United Kingdom
Source of funding information

Economic and Social Research Council

Total sum awarded (Euro)

3612553.45

Start date of award

01-07-2010

Total duration of award in months

60

The project/programme is most relevant to
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
  • Neurodegenerative disease in general
Keywords

cohort, longitudinal, cognitive imparement

Research abstract in English

The demography, experiences, expectations and perspectives of older people have changed greatly. Building on a previous survey undertaken in rural North Wales, this study will evaluate change in older people’s social networks over 15 years and examine whether cognitive decline at a given age has reduced alongside improvements in health, exercise and activity.

2500 people aged 65 and over will be interviewed twice, two years apart, so differences in rates of change over time can be compared between cohorts born 15 years apart. This will be augmented with a new cohort from urban South Wales, with the combined sample of 5000 being used to study the relationships of resilience, coping and well-being to changes in cognition. Potential preventative factors for the development of cognitive impairment, such as having a higher level of education, remaining active, physically and mentally, having a more active social life, nutritional status and being bilingual will be examined.

The core of the data will be shared with the on-going MRC funded CFAS II study, using similar procedures in 3 sites in England – giving a combined sample of 12,500 older people for providing estimates of health and of levels of cognitive impairment and mood.

In which category does this research fall?
  • Health and social care research
Lay Summary

    Principal Investigators

    Woods, Professor RT

    Institution

    Bangor University

    Contact information of lead PI

    Country

    United Kingdom

    Title of project or programme

    Maintaining function and well-being in later life: A longitudinal cohort study

    Source of funding information

    ESRC

    Total sum awarded (Euro)

    € 4,215,060

    Start date of award

    01/07/2010

    Total duration of award in years

    6.5

    The project/programme is most relevant to:

    Neurodegenerative disease in general

    Keywords

    Demography| Psychology| Social Policy| Sociology

    Research Abstract

    The demography, experiences, expectations and perspectives of older people have changed greatly. Building on a previous survey undertaken in rural North Wales, this study will evaluate change in older people’s social networks over 15 years and examine whether cognitive decline at a given age has reduced alongside improvements in health, exercise and activity.

    2500 people aged 65 and over will be interviewed twice, two years apart, so differences in rates of change over time can be compared between cohorts born 15 years apart. This will be augmented with a new cohort from urban South Wales, with the combined sample of 5000 being used to study the relationships of resilience, coping and well-being to changes in cognition. Potential preventative factors for the development of cognitive impairment, such as having a higher level of education, remaining active, physically and mentally, having a more active social life, nutritional status and being bilingual will be examined.

    The core of the data will be shared with the on-going MRC funded CFAS II study, using similar procedures in 3 sites in England – giving a combined sample of 12,500 older people for providing estimates of health and of levels of cognitive impairment and mood.

    Lay Summary

    Older people are living longer and form a greater proportion of the population than ever before. By 2025, for the first time in history, 20% will be over 65 and 5.5% over 80. Each generation of older people (‘cohort’) differs from those that went before. They have different life experiences, expectations and views of the world. Their approaches to retirement, leisure, health, activity, nutrition and exercise differ from those of their parents’ generation, as do their ideas regarding how needs for care and support should be met, influenced perhaps by changes in families and in society. This research will firstly repeat, as closely as possible, a survey of older people carried out in North Wales 15 years ago, in order to ask two specific questions: how have older people’s networks of social relationships changed, in the face of great changes in social structures and families over this time period? And: has the extent of changes in memory and thinking ability at a given age reduced with general improvements in health, exercise and activity? This will involve interviewing 2500 people aged 65 and over twice, two years apart, so we can compare rates of change over time between the two cohorts. A further 2500 older people will be similarly interviewed twice in a different part of Wales, to develop a more varied composite picture. The combined sample of 5000 will enable us to look at a number of important issues, including: what makes some older people better able to cope with difficult life circumstances than others, to be resilient? Does being resilient help the person have greater well-being if changes in memory and thinking are experienced? There is some evidence that having a higher level of education, remaining active, physically and mentally, having a more active social life and being bilingual reduce the risk of changes in memory and thinking, and perhaps dementia, in later life. This study will be able to examine which of these factors are associated with fewer changes in memory and thinking, initially and over a two-year follow-up period. Some older people will also be asked to have a blood test, which will indicate levels of nutrition, which similarly may protect against changes in memory and thinking, and also be related to levels of activity. Interviewing 5000 older people on two occasions is a major undertaking. This study benefits from the methods used having been tried and tested in previous research. This includes the procedures for identifying the older people to be approached from General Practitioner lists; procedures for training interviewers and for carrying out the interviews; tests of memory and thinking; and the methods of recording and managing and analysing all the large amount of data generated. Large samples are needed in order to gain a better understanding of the changes in the experience of ageing. The core of the data can be shared with an on-going study using the same procedures in 3 sites in England – giving a combined sample of 12,500 older people for providing estimates of health and of levels of memory and thinking, and of mood. However, the study proposed here would importantly add consideration of aspects of personality such as resilience, a detailed analysis of networks of social relationships, evaluation of nutritional status, and the opportunity to study the effects of being bilingual on changes in memory and thinking in later life (as many as two-thirds of older people in the North Wales study area are bilingual). The study will provide more up-to-date information regarding ageing and older people, placing the individual in the context of their social relationships and of the wider communities in which they live. It will help governments and councils to plan more effectively for the future, and inform public awareness of the bigger picture of growing older today, drawing attention to possible ways of reducing risk factors and of developing resilience in the face of adversity.

    Further information available at:

Types: Investments > €500k
Member States: United Kingdom
Diseases: Alzheimer's disease & other dementias, Neurodegenerative disease in general, Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
Years: 2011
Database Categories: N/A
Database Tags: N/A

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