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Building a healthy ageing society: TILDA celebrates 10 years of impact with Participants

Researchers at the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin held a unique and special online event on Thursday, December 2nd, in celebration of its longstanding and valued participants of the study, and to showcase its phenomenal research impact. The study, one of the longest-running health studies in Ireland, has had over 8,000 older adults who have participated in the decade-long study.

Left to Right: Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA, Senior Researcher at TILDA, Dr Christine McGarrigle, Dean of Health Research at Trinity College Dublin, Prof. Brian O’Connell and Senior Research Fellow at TILDA, Dr Cathal McCrory.

The webinar, TILDA: 10 Years of Impact was launched by Trinity College Dublin Provost Linda Doyle, and hosted by Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Professor Brian O’Connell. It featured a lecture by Professor Rose Anne Kenny, founding Principal Investigator of TILDA and Head of Medical Gerontology in Trinity College Dublin, and a Q and A panel – based on submitted questions from participants – with Professor Kenny and TILDA researchers Dr Christine McGarrigle and Professor Cathal McCrory.

Trinity Provost Linda Doyle speaking at the event to highlight TILDA's exceptional impact.

The event was in a sense a dual celebration, marking a decade of impact of published research findings but also fifteen years since TILDA’s establishment. TILDA began in 2006 with 8,504 participants aged 50 and older (representing 1 in every 156 people 50 and over in Ireland). Participants are followed up with every two years. TILDA is unique among longitudinal studies in the breadth of physical, mental health and cognitive measures collected. These data, together with the extensive social and economic data, makes TILDA one of the most comprehensive research studies of its kind both in Europe and internationally. It represents an unmatched resource for information on Ireland’s older population.

As a large-scale, nationally-representative longitudinal study, TILDA is uniquely placed to determine factors influencing healthy ageing in Ireland. The information gathered by TILDA improves our understanding of the factors that aid successful ageing in Ireland. It also assists in the development of a range of economic, health and social policies benefiting all people living in Ireland.

The event was an opportunity to express the sincere gratitude of the TILDA team to its participants for their enormous contribution over the course of the study. The time and effort they have generously given through the years has ensured TILDA has become a part of the policy landscape in Ireland. It presented key findings from 10 years of research in areas such as disease prevalence, mental health, nutrition, social connectedness, cognitive health and the impact on older persons of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the lovely comments that TILDA received from our Participants after the event include:

“Thank you so much for making complex scientific information so readily understandable and also for the valuable lessons in healthy ageing. Your enthusiasm and passion for ageing research is obvious and heart-warming.”

“Thank you so much. That was most informative and reassuring. May your work continue to be long and successful.”

“Dear Rose-Anne and the TILDA Team, Thank you very much for your excellent presentation today. I really enjoyed it and learned a bit more about continuing my healthy life and lifespan. My participation in TILDA since the beginning has helped reinforce my attention on this topic and I am constantly improving my life in many ways.I look forward to the next wave in 2022.”

After a decade of research findings, TILDA has produced over 500 papers and reports. Publications based on findings from TILDA have informed over 250 policy and advocacy documents, from government departments and state agencies nationally and internationally, through a range of bodies in the public and private sectors, to community and voluntary organisations and other NGOs.

TILDA is currently completing its sixth wave of data collection.

You can learn more about the study and read its publications at