Ageing and long-term chronic conditions
Addressing the needs of the ageing population has been identified as a priority by the UK government.
In the UK, the number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to be 16.1 million by 2031. While the UK has seen dramatic gains in life expectancy, there has also been an associated rise in the prevalence of multiple long-term conditions. One third of people aged over 65 years have two or more chronic illnesses, increasing to almost 90% in people aged over 80 years.
Older people are the main users of the National Health Service, yet older people are relatively underrepresented in healthcare research. This has resulted in an inequality paradox whereby older people lack evidence-based healthcare. Unless we urgently address this inequality it will quickly grow wider.
We are the only MIC with a dedicated theme around ageing, reflecting Newcastle’s internationally-renowned expertise in this area. The overarching strategy within this theme is to help to develop and evaluate diagnostics that are fit for the needs of older patients with long-term conditions and their complex healthcare needs.
The theme is led by Miles Witham, Professor of Trials for Older People at Newcastle University. He also holds positions across other NIHR infrastructure. As National Speciality Lead for Ageing within the NIHR Clinical Research Network, Miles ensures that mechanisms to recruit older patients to clinical diagnostics studies are in place and available to the MIC. As deputy theme lead for Ageing Syndromes within the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, he also facilitates sharing of expertise in experimental and translational medicine, and sharing of resources such as the NIHR BioResource Centre Newcastle.
Projects within this theme are focused on conditions and illnesses more common in the older population including tests for stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.