The UK ageing population is projected to increase from 11.4 million to 20 million in 2030. Similar trends are projected worldwide. As the number of adults 65 (and even 50) years of age increases, so will the number of issues related to ageing. The wide range of issues related renders it one of the most pressing concerns for the UK government, as well as one across the globe. Age, for instance, is associated with an increase prevalence of chronic disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. But this is only the trip of the iceberg. Older adults face many other challenges associated with health and well-being, relationships, social interaction, changing unhealthy life-style, as well as depression, risk taking, abuse, and financial fraud. It is little surprise, that ageing has fast become one of the most active research areas, with increased funding streams, focus on impact, and national and international collaborations.
Plymouth University has been championing basic and applied ageing research, with the University taking a leading role in dementia research. In fact, Plymouth University is the first dementia friendly university. The Ageing Research Group brings together researchers from across the University, developing collaborations internally and externally, securing research funding, publishing high impact papers, and leading to real world impact locally and nationally.
There is currently a wide spectrum of ageing related projects taking place: biomedical research related to dementia, nutrition in ageing, physical activities for older adults, reducing loneliness among older adults, developing novel ways to detect eye problems, and better understanding of psychological mechanisms involved in older adults’ counterfactual thinking as well and susceptibility to on-line fraud.
Researchers at the University have secured funding from foundations (e.g., Alzheimer Society), national funding agencies (ESRC), the NHS, private sector organisations, and many other sources. The work currently carried across the University can have a direct impact on the well-being of the ageing population.
Drs Matt Roser and Patric Bach from the School of Psychology have secured initial funding to create the first Southwest Brain Image Database. In the medical school researchers are working on better understanding the mechanism involved in cognitive decline, which has the potential to lead to the development of new pharmacological interventions; researchers at the school of optometry are developing new ways to detect eye problems with the potential to aid millions of older adults; researchers are working with a myriad of organisation to improve travel experience of people with dementia.