Mån 24 jun / År 42 / Nr 3 2024

Increased opportunities for active and healthy ageing

Improving quality of life and providing the right tools for active and healthy ageing is the long-term goal of all research conducted at the Centre for Ageing and Supportive Environments (CASE) at Lund University. By reviewing the surroundings, including the conditions for older people to make their own choices in terms of living arrangements, leisure activities, transport and other important aspects of life, researchers hope make a difference. The aim is to influence the design of future infrastructure, housing and public services to meet the needs of the ageing population.

The Centre for Ageing and Supportive Environments (CASE) is a platform for interdisciplinary research dedicated to studies of person-environment transactions in the ageing individual and population at Lund University. The centre is a meeting place for researchers from various disciplines such as medicine and health, technology and social sciences.

Why research on ageing and supportive environments is important
The situation of senior citizens is important in the public debate in Sweden, most often focusing on issues of the quality of care and social services. At CASE, many other aspects are studied, with specific foci on housing, outdoor environments, public facilities and public transport as supportive environments for older people’s activity, participation and health.
Researchers pose the important question: Is society adapted to an ageing population? This is also in line with the ambition to build sustainable infrastructures and supporting personalised solutions, not only in medicine but in all sectors of society, according to the new European framework for innovations and research, Horizon 2020.
“While quality of care of course is vital, quality of life and the opportunities for active and healthy ageing are aspects highly dependent on the living environment at large, as older people tend to spend most of their time at home and in its close surroundings. It is essential that the standards of daily life in the broadest sense are acceptable, and hence it is not sufficient to focus solely on the provision of care”, CASE Director Professor Susanne Iwarsson underlines.

Gaining interest across Europe
Professor Iwarsson coordinated the extensive ENABLE-AGE project, largely funded by the European Commission during 2002 – 2004. The main objective was to study how different aspects of the home environment interact with the way very old people perceive their health, and the project involved participants from Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hungary and Latvia.
CASE researchers have followed the Swedish participants during more than ten years, and results based on longitudinal data are at hand. Likewise, their colleagues in Germany and Latvia run longitudinal studies on their samples, providing unique possibilities for cross-national studies.
The ENABLE-AGE has in turn boosted the engagement in several other European projects in various areas of interest, such as the Futurage and Innovage, to name a few.
“I am very pleased to see that our area of expertise has gained interest across Europe and beyond. Our research here at CASE can benefit from the new framework, Horizon 2020”, says Susanne Iwarsson.
Susanne Iwarsson is considered to be an international expert in environmental gerontology. As well as being the Director of CASE, she is also the Coordinator of MultiPark, a Strategic Research Area funded by the Swedish Government in order to radically improve life for people living and ageing with Parkinson’s disease.