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Sunday, December 18, 2011

What is the value of academic research to understanding and responding to older people?



I have just come across another organisation, associated with academia and involved in ageing, that I have never heard about. New Dynamics of Ageing – a cross council research project.

I found this presentation, at an event hosted by my mates at ILC, where the results of their research was presented.

I know that I am becoming an overly critical and cynical sort of bloke but when I look through the conclusions of this research I am left wondering why they bothered. I know the argument that says that you cannot trust common sense and anecdotal evidence but there comes a point where you have to draw a line.

It is a bit like saying that I think that the majority of people walk on two legs. I don't need to spending money researching the evidence to make this statement.

Here are some of the conclusions :

There are a number of drivers for quality of life in old age, including social comparison, personal expectations, having good health and mobility, and feeling safe in the community

Survey respondents emphasised the importance of living in a neighbourly and safe area, and having good local facilities to promote friendly and helpful relationship with other people, including neighbours.

Regular contact with sons and daughters was important to most respondents for enjoyment, help and security. Contact with grandchildren (and being able to play and go out with them) was seen as important to playing a reciprocal role, and to feel useful and valued

Many respondents referred to the importance of having social or voluntary activities to ‘keep busy’ – to stop them worrying, feeling alone, or dwelling on the past.

In the consultancy business this was called "wet towel research" (i.e. it is as good a wrapping a wet towel around your head, sitting in a hot bath with a glass of chilled Sancerre and making up the conclusions). You just feel certain that there are better ways of spending public money than researching the obvious. Dick Stroud

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