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The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Global Health Research InstituteResearch

Ageing and Lifecourse Influences

recognising older people as contributors to the development and stability of their societies
recognising older people as contributors to the development and stability of their societies

A key challenge

Adapting to the ageing of the global population is one of the key research challenges of the 21st century. Increasing numbers of older people will create pressures on traditional systems of support from families and public services, financial demands on public funds for pensions, and new requirements for healthcare and medical support.

As more people live longer interdisciplinary research is essential to advance understanding of the dynamic interplay between the ageing of individuals and their changing technological, social, economic, physical, and global environments.

Our research focusing particularly on understanding individual ageing and influences over the lifecourse and covers themes like
 - Health inequalities and policy
 - Diversity and the ageing of ethnic minority communities
 - Modelling the needs of tomorrow's pensioners
 - Ageing cross national perspectives

Professor Maria Evandrou from the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences, and Professor Avan Aihie Sayer from the Faculty of Medicine work with teams of researchers from across the university as part of the collaborative work done at the University of Southampton's MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, a facility which is led by Director, Professor Cyrus Cooper.



Studying the impact of nutrition on sarcopenia and wellbeing
Studying the impact of nutrition on sarcopenia and wellbeing

Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon)

As part of the HALCyon collaborative research programme, our researchers use data from nine UK cohorts (the British 1946 and 1958 birth cohorts, HCS, HAS, ELSA, Caerphilly Study, Boyd-Orr Study, Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 Study and Aberdeen Birth Cohort 1936 study) to investigate influences over the lifecourse on cognitive and physical capability, and on different aspects of wellbeing including psychological distress, positive mental health and life satisfaction. Included is an exploration of the longitudinal relation between sarcopenia or physical frailty and subsequent wellbeing or cognitive function.

The work includes study of the short- and long-term effects of exercise training on sarcopenia, frailty, physical performance and wellbeing in healthy community dwelling older people and the effects of nutrition. For example, the NIHR Nutrition Biomedical Research Unit Southampton Mealtime Assistance Study involves recruiting volunteers on a medical ward for older people and is being evaluated in terms of the patients’ food and nutrient intake as well as the impact on sarcopenia, frailty, wellbeing and clinical outcomes. (This study has been cited in a House of Commons debate as an example of research looking into how the NHS can deliver good quality care).

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