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TILDA marks the 25th Anniversary of UN International Day of Older Persons by Thanking Participants for Their Contributions

Researchers with The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin are marking the 25th Anniversary of the UN International Day of Older Persons by saying thank you to the 8,000+ participants who have participated in the study since it launched.

“To develop an environment for ageing well in Ireland, we need to explore the factors which determine successful ageing,” said Principal Investigator Rose Anne Kenny, “and the participation of older adults in TILDA has been remarkable.”

From the very start, older adults in Ireland have embraced TILDA as evidenced by their commitment to the study, which includes an interview, self-completed questionnaire and a health assessment. Everyday older people travel from across Ireland to visit Trinity College Dublin to take part in this study.

“More than 8,000 older adults from across the country have participated in three waves of data collection, enabling researchers to determine how we can improve health and well-being,” noted Research Director Dr Christine McGarrigle.

TILDA researchers are utilising these data to uncover the health, social, economic, environmental and genetic factors which contribute to ageing and to determine modifiable factors that influence ageing.

Those key findings emerging from TILDA are influencing policies at local, national and international levels, in addition to influencing clinical practices. The impacts of this nationally-representative study are significant.

“Because of TILDA, we now know how common high blood pressure is in older adults in Ireland (64%) and we also know that almost half of those with this silent killer are unaware of their condition, therefore exposing their heart, brain and kidneys to the damaging consequences,” shared Dr Catriona Murphy.

The TILDA team also discovered that two-thirds of Irish adults with atrial fibrillation – a leading contributor to stroke, heart disease and dementia – are either undiagnosed or mistreated. These findings led to an awareness campaign by the Irish Heart Foundation, and TILDA research was utilised by the HSE in developing its National Clinical Guidelines and recommendations for the care of people with stroke.

This is just one example of many emerging from TILDA in which research is translated into policies and clinical practices.

Researchers are learning more about happiness and wellbeing, along with how retirement affects individuals. The study highlighted the contributions older people make daily to their families and communities through childcare, financial assistance and a number of other intergenerational transfers.

TILDA is being harmonised against other longitudinal studies around the world, teaching researchers here and abroad. The beauty of a longitudinal study is that it gets richer as it ages – providing wave after wave of data – and allowing researchers to assess policy impacts on the general population, for example.

“As we celebrate this International Day of Older Persons, we want to recognise the tremendous contributions of older adults to world-leading research in Ageing,” remarked Professor Kenny. “Thank you for your time, your commitment, and for improving health and well-being today – and for generations to come.”