One of the greatest challenges facing healthcare, and society in general, is developing new treatments and solutions for our ageing population. As people live longer, the impact on pretty much every area of human existence is huge. I had never thought about it in too much detail before but it means that everything will have to change: there will be more demand for housing, transport, food, and particularly a change in medical needs. As a result, the government and research councils are committed to funding research in this area. And just how is Aston University contributing to this? Cue the Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA)!
All of Aston’s four Schools make up ARCHA. The Centre takes a multidisciplinary approach to successful ageing by asking how technological, therapeutic and psychological strategies can be used to understand and prevent age related decline. ARCHA is keen to promote its work to staff and students throughout the University and one way in which the Centre has been successful in doing this is through its weekly Wednesday lunchtime seminar series. The talks are open to anyone and cover a range of issues including topics such as ‘living with dementia’ and ‘sleep in later life’, as well as seeking to answer questions like ‘can near focusing ability be restored to the aging eye?’.
Dr Roslyn Bill, Director of ARCHA, told Aspects: “ARCHA’s mission is to facilitate research that helps us to understand, predict and prevent age related degeneration. The Centre has a specific focus on the eye, the mind, the metabolism and healing in the context of the psychological, social and policy factors affecting ageing lives.”
ARCHA are putting together a panel of people over 50 who will take part in the Centre’s research. So far, volunteers have been key in participating in eyesight examinations, questionnaires and computerised tests etc.
The research in ARCHA is split into five ‘clusters’, each dedicated to a different, but complimentary, research area and each led by a different academic.
Roslyn explains: “Researchers in ARCHA’s Ageing Mind Cluster are working to understand how our brain changes as we age and they are using this information to design appropriate solutions to help people lead independent and active lives.
“The Ageing Metabolism Cluster is investigating ways in which the overall health of the ageing population can be improved. This research will help us gain a better understanding of how changes in metabolism are related to the ageing process and how we can work to promote a healthy later life.
Problems associated with the body’s ability to repair itself as we age are being investigatedby the Ageing and Healing Cluster. Ultimately the Cluster is looking at ways in which we can repair and regenerate ourselves.
“The Ageing Lives Cluster is looking at the delivery and impact of health and care policies, as well as attitudes and beliefs towards ageing issues such as managing medicines and keeping active.
“Finally, ARCHA’s Ageing Eye Cluster researches degenerative changes that can be attributed solely to the ageing process, as well as the social consequences of the ageing eye.”
It’s been wonderful for Aspects to hear about such cross collaboration within the Schools – there’s just so much going on! Here are just a few examples of how you can get involved:
For further information, to find out how you can get involved with ARCHA, or to join the ARCHA email list, please contact Dr Roslyn Bill (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Wendy Overton (email@example.com).
For more information about the Ageing Lives Cluster, contact Dr Carol Holland.
For more information about the Ageing and Healing Cluster, contact Dr Richard Martin.
For more information about the Ageing Metabolism Cluster, contact Dr James Brown.
For more information about the Ageing Mind Cluster, contact Dr Eric Hill.
For more information about the Ageing Eye Cluster, contact Prof Brian Tighe.
If you would like your research or research group featured in Aspects just get in touch!
Words by Louise Russell