Lifelong Health and Wellbeing

Older people are accounting for an increasingly higher percentage of the UK’s population, with life expectancy rising at an unprecedented rate and predictions that by 2033, 25% of the population will be over 65 years old. The Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme was set up in order to meet the challenges and make the most of the opportunities presented by the ageing population. It is led by the Medical Research Council on behalf of the Arts and Humanities, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences and Economic and Social Research Councils and provides a platform to fund and coordinate multidisciplinary research into ageing.

Among the project’s aims are:
• to target factors over the course of an individual’s life that may have a pronounced effect upon their health and wellbeing when they are older,
• to identify and develop effective interventions that lead to improved health and quality of life as people grow older,
• to inform the development of services and technologies to support independent living,
• to increase capacity and capability in ageing-relevant research.

Newcastle’s role concerns mental wellbeing in later life. We have developed a Wearable Acoustic Monitor, which measures the wearer’s level of social interaction. The premise of the design is that socialising with people is a vital aspect of our emotional wellbeing, while equally our emotional wellbeing can have an impact upon the degree to which we wish to socialise. For people with depression or other illnesses that may cause them to engage less with other people either voluntarily or involuntarily, monitoring social interaction can therefore be a good indicator of that person’s emotional wellbeing.

See also: Wearable Acoustic Monitor

Date: Jan 2012 – Aug 2013
Funding: MRC: Medical Research Council £247,327
Researchers: John O’Brien – Institute for Ageing & Health (PI),  Peter Gallagher, and Nicole Ferrier – Institute of Neuroscience, Jeff Neasham, and Satnam Dlay – Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (CIs).  Patrick Olivier (Coll). Roisin McNaney, Bin GaoCas Ladha, Karim Ladha