News and Events
Uncovering the secrets of successful ageing - TILDA explores decade of research to understand a generation
From heart conditions to caring for grandchildren and from undiagnosed diabetes to the power of positive thought, the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) has spent a decade understanding Ireland’s older generation. Trinity College Dublin will celebrate that milestone with 600 of the 8500 participants at a special event today, at which researchers and participants will consider the critical impact this research continues to have on the lives of older people.
Such is the breadth and depth of the subjects TILDA’s research covers that policy makers, NGOs and others have used the findings as the evidence base for 52 policy and strategy documents covering: transport; health; jobs; pensions; carers; residential and home care; health and road safety public awareness campaigns; capacity planning for services; medical care and practice; IT; health insurance; dementia prevention; volunteering; taxation and the economy.
The TILDA research team and principal investigator, Professor of Medical Gerontology at Trinity, Rose Anne Kenny, will give examples of how this research is changing policy and practice for older adults.For example:
- When TILDA revealed two thirds of older people have high blood pressure – often unknown to the individual despite the risk it poses to their heart and brain health – TILDA, with funding from the HRB, rolled out a nationwide programme to community health nurses to encourage more frequent blood pressure monitoring.
- TILDA measurements on walking speeds revealed that one in three older adults cannot cross the street in the time allotted at signalised crossings. TILDA researchers are now working with local authorities to assess signal timing settings and are providing evidence for public safety campaigns with the Road Safety Authority.
- Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a common cause of stroke, heart failure and dementia. TILDA found that the prevalence of Afib was 2.3% in the population, rising to 20% in men aged over 80 years. Of those with an arrhythmia, one third were unaware of the arrhythmia and one third were incorrectly treated. The Irish Heart Foundation translated these findings into a national awareness campaign and now, the National Screening Programme Guidelines use this TILDA data.
- In addition to the original funding from the Department of Health, Atlantic Philanthropies and Irish Life of over €28 million, since 2006, TILDA has also raised additional grant funding for research projects of €4.6 million;
- TILDA has 34 staff including 14 post-doctoral researchers and 8 students and has trained 28 PhDs and post-doctoral fellows, 140 field workers and 25 research nurses;
- The TILDA team have authored 108 papers in peer reviewed publications as well as 23 reports, topic reports and research briefs;
- More than 1100 people have access to anonymised TILDA data for their own research projects, both nationally and internationally;
- TILDA is engaged in more than 45 national research collaborations and more than 25 international collaborations;
- TILDA has reached over 10,000 social media learners through their free online course, Strategies for Successful Ageing, which will run again for Positive Ageing Week, this September 26th 2016;
- The TILDA study is harmonised to 13 other international longitudinal studies on ageing which allows cross country comparisons of key indicators of health, wealth and happiness.
Professor Kenny continued: “The TILDA team wish to pay tribute to TILDA participants who have helped us to unmask the important and often silent contribution that older adults make to Irish society. The participants have contributed to a rich legacy which will ensure a better quality of life for future generations by helping us to understand the process of ageing. This understanding is coupled with important information to help governments to make efficient policy decisions to optimise health and economic success as populations age.”
Established in 2006, TILDA was designed to provide an evidence base for understanding ageing in Ireland and beyond. 8500 participants are interviewed at home every two years and take part in an in-depth health assessment every four years. Researchers gather detailed information about their health, wealth and social structures and are able to track changes in people’s physical and emotional wellbeing over time. The research is helping them pinpoint the lifestyle choices, behaviours and strategies that prove to be the most successful for a positive ageing experience.
The study was initially funded by a philanthropic gift from Irish Life and from Atlantic Philanthropies in addition to funding from the Department of Health.
Using publicly archived TILDA datasets
Delivered by TILDA in conjunction with the Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA) and Gateway to Global Aging.
Date: 9th September 2016
Venue: Trinity College Dublin
10am - 1pm: Introduction to publicly available TILDA datasets.
- Overview of TILDA.
- Accessing and using TILDA data, available through ISSDA.
- Accessing and using the digital library and harmonised TILDA dataset,
- through the Gateway to Global Aging.
Room: Maxwell Theatre (90 spaces)
2pm - 4pm: Hands-on workshop using the harmonised TILDA dataset to do cross-country comparisons.
Room: Áras an Phiarsaigh PC Lab 0.12 (20 spaces)
For more information:
Professor Rose Anne Kenny presents on “How a longitudinal study can change the research landscape” at the Biomedical and Life Sciences Innovation Showcase.
Tuesday, May 17th 2016: The showcase was co-hosted by Trinity College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to promote the next wave of Biomedical and Life Sciences research being undertaken within both institutions and profile examples of and opportunities for Knowledge Transfer and Industry collaboration.
Professor Rose Anne Kenny's talk:
TILDA 2016 Scientific Advisory Board Meeting
Wednesday, May 13th 2016: The TILDA research team and affiliated researchers presented to members of the TILDA Scientific Advisory Board and other guests during the one-day event held at Trinity College Dublin. Presentations included the Global Brain Health Institute; Technological Assessments in Longitudinal Studies; Chrono-Biological Markers of Ageing; Knowledge Exchange Seminars on Hypertension; The Relationship Between Kidney Disease and Ageing; Sexual Activity and Relationship Quality in Older Age; and Housing and Older Adults in Ireland.
Pictured above (from back, left to right): Prof. James Nazroo, Prof. Lisa Berkman, Prof. Aartjan Beekman, Prof. Charles Normand, Prof. Jim Smith, Prof. Robert Wright, Prof. Yaohui Zhao, Prof. Brendan Wheelan, Prof. Rose Anne Kenny, Prof. John Henretta, Prof. David Weir, Prof. Robert Clarke, Dr Christine McGarrigle, Prof. Stacy Tessler Lindau, Prof. Finbarr Martin, Prof. Alan Barrett, Prof. Carol Brayne, and Prof. Ian Young.
Lecture by Professor James P. Smith "Irish immigrants and their progeny around the world"
Thursday, 12th May 2016: We were delighted to have Professor James Smith join us in celebrating 10 years of TILDA.
Lecture on Irish Immigrants to the US Marks 10 Years of TILDA
Hollywood movies often portrayed the Irish as a poor and uneducated race of people. Yet like so many other Hollywood storylines, this image is just a myth. In fact Irish migrants to the US during the first half of the 20th century were on average as well educated as other European immigrants to the US, according to Professor James Smith, who delivered the lecture ‘Irish Immigrants and their Progeny around the World’ in Trinity College Dublin to mark the 10th anniversary of TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing).
In addition to comparing whether Irish migrants to the US were more or less educated than the Irish who stayed at home, Professor Smith, the son of an Irish mother who emigrated to the US, examined how the children and grandchildren of Irish migrants to the US did in terms of their education. Did they receive more education in the US than they would have received if the original migrants had stayed at home in Ireland? The answer is no.
Professor Smith, Distinguished Chair in Labor Markets and Demographic Studies at US-based policy-research institute RAND, visited Trinity to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of TILDA. He has served from the start of TILDA as chair of the International Scientific Advisory Board and has played a pivotal role in helping TILDA be a success.
Professor Paul Browne, Head of School of Medicine, welcoming Professor James Smith said: “We are grateful to Professor Smith for being incredibly generous with his time and expertise, and in particular for his mentorship of younger researchers at TILDA and being an inspiration.
Full press release available here
You’re Only As Old As You Feel!
Our attitudes to ageing can have a direct effect on our health
Dublin Wednesday January 27, 2016: Negative attitudes to ageing affect both physical and cognitive health in later years, new research reveals. The study from TILDA, at Trinity College Dublin, further reveals that participants with positive attitudes towards ageing had improved cognitive ability.
The research, led by Dr Deirdre Robertson, formerly of TILDA, now based at Columbia University, investigated whether long-term exposure to negative attitudes towards ageing affects long-term changes in physical health as well.
Older adults with negative attitudes towards ageing had slower walking speed and worse cognitive abilities two years later, compared to older adults with more positive attitudes towards ageing.
This was true even after participants’ medications, mood, their life circumstances and other health changes that had occurred over the same two-year period were accounted for.
- Furthermore, negative attitudes towards ageing seemed to affect how different health conditions interacted. Frail older adults are at risk of multiple health problems including worse cognition. In the TILDA sample frail participants with negative attitudes towards ageing had worse cognition compared to participants who were not frail. However frail participants with positive attitudes towards ageing had the same level of cognitive ability as their non-frail peers.
Speaking about the findings, Dr Robertson, commented: “The way we think about, talk about and write about ageing may have direct effects on health. Everyone will grow older and if negative attitudes towards ageing are carried throughout life they can have a detrimental, measurable effect on mental, physical and cognitive health.”
Principal Investigator of TILDA, Professor Rose Anne Kenny, added: “Researchers and policy makers can work together to develop and implement societal-wide interventions to target attitudes and perhaps, ultimately, find novel ways of maintaining health in later life.”
Data from TILDA provides a unique opportunity to study attitudes towards ageing as it tracks health changes over time in a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older adults. These latest findings have important implications for media, policymakers, practitioners and society more generally. Societal attitudes towards ageing are predominantly negative. Everyone will grow older and if these attitudes persist they will continue to diminish quality of life.
The full research brief, summarising the three published papers is available here
For media queries:
Helen Hanley, firstname.lastname@example.org, +353 1 896 355, +353 87 855 4540
The Trinity EngAGE Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – entitled Strategies for Successful Ageing – is now open for registration. This free five-week course begins on February 8th and presents world-leading research in ageing as well as offering strategies to support health and well-being. Lead educator is Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Director of Mercer's Institute for Successful Ageing and Founder of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). She is joined by Trinity EngAGE Principal Investigators including: Professors Davis Coakley, Brian Lawlor, Ian Robertson, Virpi Timonen, Fiona Newell, Sabina Brennan, Richard Layte and Dr David Thomas.