Welcome to Issue 5

Welcome to issue 5 of the Ageing Industry Network Newsletter

The theme of this issue is Innovations, New Research and Inspirations in the ageing sector. It’s in this vein that I would like to discuss the emerging acknowledgement of the value of interdisciplinary research.

Many universities and research centres have begun to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries by facilitating cross, inter and trans disciplinary research. This cross-pollination of capabilities in research is spanning health and neuroscience, computing and communications technology, gerontology, architecture and design, implementation science and social policy, just to name a few.

The unprecedented demographic change in the world, largely represented by an increase in longevity, is now being considered according to the challenges and opportunities that population ageing brings, at all levels including individual, social, organisational, economic and political.

Ageing encompasses an interconnectedness of opportunities with various stakeholders. Substantial developments in technology and design for example have enabled increased independence and autonomy including wearable devices that monitor health and alert next of kin in the event of an emergency; the development of carpet underlay that can detect falls within the home; ability to attend virtual exercise classes at home; drones delivering pharmaceuticals; Alzheimer’s Australia’s virtual dementia simulation, which allows people to perceive an environment from the perspective of someone living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia and which serves to inform procedures of care and design of facilities; the promotion of age-friendly cities to facilitate safety and civic participation and combat isolation and loneliness (this takes into consideration transport, physical environment, services, public health, housing etc.). These advances are nothing short of astounding. The future is uncertain, terrifying, exciting, and there is no doubt that the ageing population is fuelling a perfect storm for change.

There is no question that these innovations need to be relevant and equitably accessible taking into consideration control, privacy and management of data; and technologies that are adaptive, intuitive, and user-friendly to the aged consumer. The change appears to be in the direction of consumer control with more mature age consumers adopting the phrase “no decision about me, without me”.

Expert researchers from various backgrounds and disciplines have a common view of expanding our world through varied yet shared lenses. This coming together facilitates the formation of new, interdisciplinary fields which aim to improve quality of life and to ultimately have a transformative effect on society.

Many thanks to all of our contributors to this issue. We hope all our readers enjoy the holiday season and we look forward to your company in 2017.

[Source: Ruth Williams, Academic Convenor, Hallmark Ageing Research Initiative, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health]