Wales

Bangor uni ageing survey to study health and wellbeing

The positives and negatives of ageing are to be examined in a five-year study of 5,000 people over 65.

Bangor University's £3m survey will look at health and well-being, changes in memory in later life and factors which could promote "healthy ageing".

Older people are living longer and form a bigger proportion of the population than ever before, said the university.

The Welsh Assembly Government said the report would be "significant" at local, national and international levels.

Recruits for the survey will be sought in Anglesey and south Gwynedd, Neath and Port Talbot.

The research will examine their changing attitudes to retirement, leisure, health, activity, nutrition and exercise, the university explained. Their ideas on methods of care and support will also be canvassed.

A university spokesman said: "As the population ages we need to be able to ensure that as many people as possible enjoy their later years, and that those who become ill, receive diagnosis of dementia or other age related mental impairment, their family and carers, are supported in the best, most cost-effective means."

Prof Bob Woods will lead the project from the university's dementia services development centre.

"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 can be protective in later life," he said.

"We are also interested in what makes some older people better able to negotiate difficult life circumstances than others, to be resilient.

"We're not just focusing on the negative aspects of ageing, such as changes in health status, memory and thinking. Many people cope well with what life throws at them."

Deputy Social Services Minister Gwenda Thomas said: "The study will add greatly to our understanding of ageing in rural and bilingual communities, and will have additional significance for Wales, and indeed the localities involved, whilst contributing to the overall UK and international picture."

Bangor University said the research would be linked with other studies into ageing led by Prof Carol Brayne of Cambridge University.

The data produced would also be available for other researchers across the UK.

Researchers at Swansea University would look at the importance of social networks and relationships for older people.

Others at Liverpool would look at nutrition and the role of vitamin b12, which is linked to cognitive functioning.

The project, funded by the Economic & Social Research Council and the Higher Education Council for Wales, will be launched later in Bangor.

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