Stakeholder workshop 2

When

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Where

Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom

Workshop documents

The final report from the workshop is now available here.

Please download the final programme.

The presentations from the day can be downloaded below.

Presentations

A) Healthy ageing for more life in years - Carol Jagger, Newcastle University, United Kingdom

The focus on extending life expectancy and reducing mortality was relevant whilst deaths from infectious diseases and maternal mortality were high but most European countries have now substantially reduced premature mortality and mortality rates even in late old age are falling. Emphasis has therefore moved to ensuring the quality of life at older ages and many political agendas now stress the need for increasing healthy years of life. The benefits of this to society are immense. Understanding the biology of the ageing process and what constitutes healthy ageing, identifying risk factors for and developing appropriate and timely interventions at a societal and individual level to reduce unhealthy life years is crucial to maximise health and to empower individuals to make informed decisions about retirement, housing, family and leisure.  In this section we stress the gains that a wider European platform has to deepening our knowledge and identify seven challenges related to future European ageing research in the area of healthy ageing: Healthy ageing and frailty – understanding the process and defining the concepts; Organising and delivering interventions for health promotion; The ageing process and early markers of ill health; Modelling links between disease and functioning over the life course; Clinical care and its effectiveness; Education and lifelong learning; Environmental conditions for ageing well.

 

B) Maintaining mental capital across the life courseAlan Walker, University of Sheffield, UK and Hans-Werner Wahl, Heidelberg University, Germany

By the overarching term mental capital we mean in the Road Map a collection of abilities and behaviours that ageing individuals possess and apply in aligning their lives most closely to their needs.  As a consequence, mental capital certainly encompasses the entire spectrum of cognitive functions such as memory processes, speed of information processing, or executive functions as addressed by traditional cognitive ageing research as well as geriatric medicine and gero-psychiatry.  However, this topic also addresses more general competencies such as knowledge important to master daily life, skills to maintain and secure one’s social integration, coping abilities that enable ageing people to deal with critical transitions and major life experiences and the regulation of positive and negative emotional functioning and forms of psychological resilience.  Research on mental capital can only be done by forging linkages between biogerontology, psychology, the health and exercise sciences, geriatric medicine, public health and the social and political sciences of ageing.  Against this background, the section on mental capital discusses key characteristics of the concept such as multidimensionality, plasticity and its cohort relatedness (the latter for example to be traced in skills and knowledge needed to deal with “new” information/communication technology).

 

C) Active ageing: inhibitors and facilitators – Carlos Chiatti, INRCA, Italy and Hans-Werner Wahl, Heidelberg University, Germany

With the concept of active ageing, the Road Map refers to the needed increase of opportunities for older people to play a strong role in the workforce, to proactively shape their health, functioning and lifestyle and to contribute as much as possible to European societies’ future development.  Active ageing is thus used in the Road Map as a scientifically helpful umbrella term that encompasses various factors essential to quality of life such as continuous labour market participation; active contribution to domestic tasks (including housework and caring for others); active participation in community life; and active leisure. Active ageing is also an ideal construct to better link macro, meso and micro perspectives in ageing research, thus requiring a social-ecology view of ageing.  At the micro level, the Road Map puts particular emphasis on psychological functioning and health including older adults with severe dependencies and care needs as well as those faced with mild cognitive impairment and dementia-related disorders.  At the meso level, we address key issues such as social participation, the role of the physical and technological environment and leisure and physical activity. The exertion of such activities requires ‘opportunity structures’, both socially and physically, because the proximal environment frequently serves as a strong facilitating or inhibiting factor for exerting such activity. At the macro level, important issues include investment into the ageing work force and into an active retirement policy, allowing for the optimal fit between individual needs and opportunity structures inherent in the workforce system. In addition, there is a strong need at the macro level to be very aware of deprived neighbourhoods and poor housing, because older people are among those most negatively affected by such highly constraining person-environment constellations at large. 

 

D) Unequal ageing and age-related inequalitiesCarol Jagger, Newcastle University, United Kingdom

Within the European Union there is uneven distribution of life expectancy and healthy life expectancy between member states and between population groups within member states.  Further, while the life expectancy of EU citizens has risen steadily over recent decades (a trend which extends back at least into the 19th century), the gradients in life expectancy between more or less deprived populations and those with greater access to social and environmental resources continues to persist.  In this regard ageing has a special place among the determinants of inequality.  Inequalities result from the interplay between genetic and key environmental determinants, but many of these factors are open to intervention.  Socio-economic status, race and ethnicity, migration, disability, health risk-related behaviour and gender are all significant contributory factors to the mix of determinants of inequality.  Current research has a number of weaknesses including a focus on mortality/survival as a determinant of health, intermittent geographic coverage and lack of alignment between studies.   Future research should be targeted at: monitoring and resolving inequalities; health in work and retirement; the oldest-old, and; participation of older people in research.

 

E) Social participation and F) Social protection - quality and sustainabilityGiovanni Lamura, INRCA, Italy/ European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Austria

This presentation focuses on two key themes of the Road Map for future ageing research: Social Participation and Social Protection. It aims at both highlighting the major dimensions covered by them as well as at describing how the outcomes of the consultations carried out in the field of social and economic resources have flown into the current draft of these two chapters. After a brief definition of the basic concepts of social and economic resources, the main results deriving from the two rounds of consultations are illustrated, in which for the first time a large number of representatives from Eastern European countries were involved. These include the development of a comprehensive conceptual framework used to identify major themes, the adoption of a life-course approach, and the identification of ten crucial themes – in terms of both policy and scientific relevance – to be considered for future ageing research:  social participation, labour market, families and generations, education, consumption, welfare, spirituality, new technologies, migration and leisure. These topics have been rearranged into the two overarching themes of social participation and social protection, each containing a set of key research questions. These have been identified, for the social participation area, with the issues of how to best prevent age discrimination, compensate mobility limitations, facilitate the use of ICT and virtual networks and tackle the challenges of migration. The research questions covering the social protection field focus on the sustainability of welfare systems, the accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of care services, including the role played by new technologies in it, and the possible revision of the “intergenerational contract” to better face old and new age-related vulnerabilities. Final refinements might be required to cover more properly still under-considered topics such as spirituality and education, and to reinterpret the current contents in a more multidisciplinary and integrated way.

G) Attitudes and ageismJames Goodwin, Age UK, United Kingdom and Alice Sinigaglia, Age Platform Europe

Ageism describes the attitudes, prejudices, behaviours and social structures that result in discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age.   Ageism is a useful lens through which to study discrimination on health and elder abuse, positing these phenomena as a denial of rights and as a risk factor of the dehumanizing of older people.  Attitudes towards older people also have a great impact on older people’s health and quality of life. Researchers can play a big role in supporting user involvement in these research areas and promoting a better image of older people among the general public.   Research into ageism and attitudes has not yet developed to the same level of maturity as research on other types of discrimination. First, research is needed to chart the prevalence and nature of ageism, pinpointing where it is a significant problem, in what ways and how it is changing over time. Similarly research is required to identify the impact and outcomes of ageism. Second, research is required to understand why age discrimination continues to be perpetuated and develop effective interventions to tackle the causes and mitigate negative outcomes. Thirdly, research takes place in a wider society in which ageism is deeply entrenched and both individual researchers and research institutions and structures (such as EU finding bodies) must look to their own practices to eliminate discrimination from their work. Finally, the efforts of researchers to contribute to all of these roles must be underpinned by the development of robust and effective knowledge transfer.   

Underscoring the FUTURAGE research priorities is a commitment to user involvement. One of the reasons for improving user involvement in research is to counter the forces of prejudice against older people which is widespread in Europe. FUTURAGE has a systematic engagement with users and the findings of this engagement will be discussed.

 

H) Places and contextTorbjörn Svensson, Lund University, Sweden

This presentation will examine the 'Places and context' research theme, which attempts to understand how a person and their environment affects their ageing.  It is a reflection of the interrelations between the individual and their environment at home, at work, in other locations, while travelling, and with technology and products.  Person-environment interactions also reflect the diversity of population and situation, examining: rural vs urban environments; how gender roles affect perceptions of home, and; how ethnic and cultural perceptions shape choice and perception.  Research priorities also focus on transitions, from work to retirement, from health to disease or disability, from normal cognitive function to mild impairment or dementia, and at end of life.   The strong interdisciplinary nature of the theme seeks to develop a wide contextual knowledge base on ageing as related to place and context, drawing on existing and currently unconnected research in areas such as fall prevention, care contexts and public transport.  There is a strong emphasis on engagement with end users, especially older people in actively shaping their own environments to better serve healthy ageing.  The research priorities identified in the Road Map reflects two fundamental directions: innovative research questions/areas and synthesis of evidence, serving as the base for intervention studies and implementation.


Summary

FUTURAGE has responsibility for creating the definitive Road Map for Ageing Research which is intended to guide European research in this field over the next 10-15 years. 

This workshop is intended for national and regional research policy makers and funders to give them an opportunity to review and comment on the draft Road Map. 

The workshop will include presentations from the key priority areas of the draft Road Map and opportunities for both focused and open discussion.

The draft Road Map has been developed during six distinct stages of consultation with member states, research funders, policy makers, scientists and end users since the project began in September 2009.

Participants will have the opportunity to contribute, at this essential stage, to the development of the definitive Road Map for Ageing Research in Europe.

The Road Map will be launched at a major European conference in Brussels in autumn 2011.