Healthy Ageing in Place

Synopsis of developments following 2016 award for poster presentation “Physical Activity Modulates Geographical Variations in Cognitive Ageing: Results from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing”,

Marica Cassarino & Annalisa Setti.

Our award-winning study highlighted how active lifestyles can compensate for the cognitive disadvantage of living in a rural and less mentally stimulating environment. The study was part of my doctoral research project, which investigated urban-rural variations in cognitive health and potential moderators for over 4000 Irish adults aged 50+ taking part in The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).

The study informed subsequent analyses of TILDA which showed that having functional limitations can have a negative impact on cognitive health both in very rural and very urbanised areas.

Sharing the results of these analyses at the 65th Annual Meeting (2017) of the Irish Gerontological Society enabled us to initiate a conversation with investigators from different disciplines about the need to develop a person-environment fit perspective (i.e., exploring how the socio-physical environment can support individuals with different health or lifestyle circumstances) to better understand healthy ageing.  Environmental Approaches to Cognitive Ageing: An Investigation of the Role of Population Density and Disability .

Importantly, the awarded study was crucial to develop a cross-disciplinary project exploring how the lived environment can promote cognitive wellbeing in ageing through outdoor activities. The project, which integrates qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation, sees the collaboration of psychologists, cognitive scientists, social scientists, and epidemiologists in Ireland (University College Cork) and the UK (University of Exeter) who are interested in building interdisciplinary and cross-national research on healthy ageing in place.

This work contributes to the mission of the Irish Gerontological Society by advancing the knowledge on how the places where we live can help us to live a happy and independent life for as long as possible. The Irish Gerontological Society is a key platform to further develop and strengthen this research.