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Research Roundup Blog - Summer Special

A list rounding up the most engaged articles from our Research & Policy e-newsletter from the first half of the year.

Our Evidence Officer, Nayyara Tabassum, looks at the research articles and topics published in the first six months of 2019 that captured the most interest from our e-newsletter readers.

At the Centre for Ageing Better, we publish a list of research and policy articles every month in our e-newsletter around issues related to ageing and later life.   

In this round-up, I look at the research articles and topics published in the first six months of 2019 that captured the most interest from our readers.  

Fulfilling work

Poverty 

In March we published the State of Ageing, a snapshot of ageing in 2019 and the later life prospects for people currently in their 50s and 60s. The report shows that large numbers of people are at risk of spending later life in poverty, ill-health and hardship.  

Currently 2 million pensioners in the UK live in poverty and this Age UK report describes the financial hardships faced by many people in later life. According to this Resolution Foundation report, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the relative poverty rate for pensioners in their late 70s rose sharply, reaching almost 45% at its height for the “greatest generation” who were born between 1911 and 1925.

Mid-Life MOT 

With a growing older workforce, and half of those aged 60 and over not ready to retire, the fulfilling work in later life and the ability to plan and prepare for retirement are essential. But older and low-skilled workers are at particular risk of disengagement from training and lifelong learning, and may even be subject to discrimination in the workplace.

A mid-life MOT is a useful tool in supporting people to take stock and make realistic choices about their work and retirement. BITC published a mid-life MOT toolkit for Senior & HR Managers to drive the benefits of retaining older workers.

Age Discrimination 

More than a third of employees believe there is age discrimination in their workplace. According to Acas, age discrimination, which falls under the Equality Act 2010, can happen at various stages in the work cycle, from recruitment to retirement. Their report provides helpful guidance for employers and employees on age discrimination in the workplace.

Connected communities

Social isolation and loneliness can have a significant impact on a person's physical and mental wellbeing. The Scottish Government published its first national strategy to tackle social isolation and associated stigma and to build stronger social connections.  

But what works in one context may not work in another: a new study conducted in North East England showed the significance of the local context for interventions in reducing social isolation in later life.

Social Isolation  

Research shows that there is a great deal of stigma and many negative attitudes associated with later life. The National Measurement of Loneliness provides a helpful guidance on the loneliness measurement landscape and recommended national indicators of loneliness. 'The Perennials', a study carried out by Ipsos MORI, in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, reveals that just three in ten (30%) UK adults say they are looking forward to later life. Half (50%) say they worry about getting old.

Social Connections  

Intergenerational friendships can be one way of creating opportunities for people to socially connect. One recent study reviewed the role of intergenerational friendships for mutual fulfillment and found a huge research gap in this area with only six research articles on intergenerational friendship over a thirty-year period.  

Safe and accessible housing

Housing adaptations, particularly bathroom adaptations, are important prevention interventions for older adults to improve health and quality of life. This study, supported by the National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research, aimed to evaluate whether they improve older adults’ perceived health status and quality of life, using a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) approach. This study is the first RCT study of housing adaptations in the UK. Results showed that there were improvements on all outcome measures of health and quality of life following the completion of the housing adaptations. 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a useful guide for councils in preparing planning policies on housing for older and disabled people. If you are interested in finding out how exactly the DFG (Disabled Facilities Grant) currently operates to support more people to live in suitable housing, read this review conducted by the University of the West of England.

Healthy ageing

Life Expectancy  

review of recent trends in mortality in England found that inequality in life expectancy has widened. Improvement in life expectancy has been slower in more deprived areas than the less deprived areas of England. Concerningly, among the large EU countries, the UK has had the slowest rate of life expectancy improvement since 2011.

Last year, the UK government set an ambition to increase healthy life expectancy by at least five years by 2035 for England, and to reduce the gap in life expectancy between the richest and the poorest. This Lancet article describes a set of policies that could help achieve this ambition in England. 

Home Care  

Home care is an essential aspect of ‘ageing in place’, for example enabling older people to receive help with washing or dressing. The King's Fund published a report highlighting that home care continues to be commissioned on a ‘time and task’ basis rather than with a view to health and care outcomes.  

Physical Activity 

Older people are more likely to experience physical or mental health conditions than people of other ages. Findings from this Demos report highlight the scale of the UK’s inactivity problem. Public Health England recently published a guide to interventions that can be made by pharmacy teams on issues from falls prevention to mental health in order to improve quality of life for older people.   

Physical activity is not only significant for a person’s wellbeing but is also important for maintaining strength and balance in later life. In February, we published a report on community-based strength and balance programmes targeting all older adults.  

One new study brings worrying news for older adults who watch the television for long durations. It found that watching television for more than 3.5 hours per day is associated with a cognitive decline. But while too much television viewing can be harmful, music helps to enrich a person’s later life, according to this study.  

The articles covered here were the topics that our readers liked the most. But there were many more articles that our readers enjoyed in the past six months. If you haven’t already, please do sign up to our monthly e-newsletter to receive all the latest research and policy developments on ageing.  

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Nayyara
Evidence Officer