As Britain’s population gets older, research into ageing is becoming increasingly important

As Britain’s population gets older, research into ageing is becoming increasingly important. Many researchers at The University of Reading are committed to this crucial issue and will be highlighting their approaches to improving the quality of life of older people at a special workshop on Thursday 24 June.

Topics being presented cover a wide range of issues, including loneliness, influenza, nursing and care, and public health. Much of the research offers new insights into the experience of the older person in Britain today – and challenges some of the myths.

‘Research for a New Age: New Dimensions for Ageing’ has been organised by AGEnet, the University’s unique network of researchers, charity workers, healthcare professionals and members of the public interested in ageing, impairment and disability.

"This workshop is a showcase for some of the vital ageing research being conducted at the University," said Professor Peter Lansley, the Director of AGEnet. "Since it was established in 2001, AGEnet has grown and grown, and the researchers come from diverse Schools such as Animal and Microbial Sciences, Food Biosciences, Health and Social Care, and Law. Reading is really becoming a centre of excellence for research into ageing."

During the day, six specialists recently appointed to the University will discuss their work. Professor Margot Gosney will talk about influenza, and ask: ‘is flu a preventable disease, are we doing all we can to ensure those most at risk are vaccinated and at what cost?’

Dr David Oliver will argue that falls and fractures are a major problem for older people and that we need to be assessing why these accidents happen. If we know why a fall occurs, we can tailor intervention techniques – such as exercise programmes, or a review of the home environment – to prevent it happening again.

Professor Christina Victor will look at levels of loneliness and social isolation and suggest that older people are in fact more socially engaged than many people assume.

Professor Jim Connelly will discuss the "emerging panic" about a perceived dependency of the elderly on the younger population, while Dr Sally Richards will draw on research findings to look at person-centred care from the perspective of older people and look at some of the challenges involved in a person-centred approach to the assessment of social care needs.

Finally, Anne Smith will focus on the evolving role of the District Nurse and the public's perceptions of the role.

All are welcome to attend the free workshop, but booking is essential. Please contact Verity Smith, the AGEnet co-ordinator, for details. E-mail: [email protected] Tel: 0118 378 7179.

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