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Healthy ageing research has global potential

17 Mar 2021

USC’s increased research focus on healthy ageing could help the Sunshine Coast region become a key test environment for strategies that improve the lives of elderly people around the world.

A Healthy Ageing Forum run by USC and Sunshine Coast Council in February was oversubscribed, and there is strong public interest in this week’s online, livestreamed Sunshine Coast Health Symposium (March 18-19) that has a specific session on healthy ageing.

USC Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology Chris Askew and Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) geriatrician Dr Christine Fawcett will co-host the session on Thursday 18 March, with topics including diet, nutrition, chronic disease, managing older patients, rehabilitation and exercise.

The symposium is open to the public and has been organised by SCHHS and Sunshine Coast Health Institute partners Griffith University and USC to showcase their research. It will have further sessions including optimising health service efficiency, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Askew said the two-hour healthy ageing session from 1.15pm would include a keynote address from Professor Norman Morris of Griffith University and the Prince Charles Hospital, research presentations, a panel discussion and a Q&A session.

“There’s now such a global focus on healthy ageing and longevity,” said Dr Askew, who has more than 20 years’ experience in cardiovascular research and holds a joint appointment with SCHHS and USC.

“The ageing of the population has been viewed in the past as a challenge. But there has been some reframing of it in recent years, and it is now viewed as an opportunity. And that’s an opportunity for older adults as well as for health workers and researchers”.

“The World Health Organisation has dedicated this as the decade for healthy ageing, so this is a global health priority. And locally it has a strong focus. Healthy ageing is a Queensland health priority, and a national research priority.”

Dr Askew said the Sunshine Coast region had the perfect demographics for healthy ageing research.

“The world’s population is ageing. By 2050, one in every five people in Australia will be aged 65 and over,” he said. “But the Sunshine Coast is at this level already, so we have a great opportunity here to use research to better understand the health challenges associated with ageing”.

“We can become a test environment – developing new studies and intervention programs, including prevention strategies. And if what we do here is successful, it can be tested and implemented nationally and internationally.”

— Terry Walsh

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