North East Age Research was established in 1982/1983 to examine longitudinal changes in cognitive ability in healthy, community resident people aged over 50 years of age in the North East of England. The original five year study programme funded by the UK Social Science Research Council from 1982-87 was then extended in further five year periods until 2003 with funding jointly from the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council from 1987-1992, Medical Research Council 1992-1997 and Economic and Social Research Council, during 1998-2003.
This study, directed by Professor P Rabbitt, has resulted in a unique and extensively documented database of information on those volunteers taking part. In the North Eastern sample, 3384 individuals were recruited in waves and screened at 2 –3 year intervals on batteries of cognitive tests. In addition extensive information on health, socio-economic status, mobility, activities undertaken, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, diet and other lifestyle factors were gathered at 3-5 year intervals
Aim of study
The aim of the study was to examine changes in cognitive ability in older people as they grew older over a period of time. In order to do this a longitudinal study was designed whereby participants were tested on two batteries of psychological tests. They went through biennial testing on these batteries until 2003 with the longest serving participants providing 4 time points of data on one test battery and 3 time points of data on the second test battery. As data collection progressed it became increasingly clear that in order to fully understand changes in cognitive ageing a variety of background measures would be needed in addition to the cognitive data. To this end participants have also completed a number of questionnaires to provide information on demographic information, health, pathology, mobility, exercise, physical and intellectual activities, social involvements, and alcohol and tobacco consumption.
The Current Panel
The current surviving ‘elite’ volunteers of this study (n = 200) are our oldest old. They constitute a valuable resource for future research, for not only is there a wealth of documented information on their health and lifestyle, but because they have aged so successfully they warrant further investigation to determine factors predicting their successful ageing.
Lynn McInnes – Panel Manager of North East Age Research
Lynn’s most recent research role has been as the principal investigator on a prestigious New Dynamics of Ageing Grant funded by ESRC and the other major UK research councils looking at links between mobility and successful ageing among the older population. This research, in collaboration with local company TrackaPhone, pioneered new methodologies in relation to older adults’ use of tracking technologies. NDA website.
She has also recently been a collaborator on a MRC Lifelong Health and Well-being Network grant and is just beginning an International Research Exchange Scheme examining models for ageing and technological solutions for improving and enhancing quality of life