Older people with positive outlook to ageing have better quality of life

The study of 8,500 people discovered two-thirds have high blood pressure

Older people with positive outlook to ageing have better quality of life

An elderly woman waits for a bus on Thomas Street in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

A decade-long study has found older adults with more positive attitudes towards ageing have a better quality of life.

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) found those with negative attitudes to ageing had slower walking speed and worse cognitive abilities.

It says this was the case even after participants’ medications, mood, life circumstances and other health changes over a two-year period were taken into account.

The study of 8,500 people discovered two-thirds of older people had high blood pressure - often unknown to them, despite the risk it poses to their heart and brain.

The measurements on walking speeds revealed that one-in-three older adults cannot cross the street in the time given 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 (RSA).

Directing policy and strategy

Researchers also found that atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a common cause of stroke, heart failure and dementia.

They 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 issue 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.

The research has been used by policy makers, NGOs and others as the evidence base for 52 policy and strategy documents.

TILDA has 34 staff, including 14 post-doctoral researchers and eight students, has trained 28 PhDs and post-doctoral fellows, 140 field workers and 25 research nurses.

The body was designed to provide an evidence base for understanding ageing in Ireland.

Participants are interviewed at home every two years and take part in an in-depth health assessment every four years.

Professor of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College, Rose Anne Kenny, is the principal investigator.

She told Newstalk Breakfast the findings could have a huge impact on our health.