As I near the end of my research I am becoming more aware of how few older researchers there are in ageing, and how the younger researchers are getting it so wrong.

The latest edition of the ANU Reporter, a publication from Australia’s leading University (ranked 19th in the world) contains a quote from one of their leading researchers, a younger woman, in this field. She is quoted as saying ‘Keeping the mind sharp through crosswords and other puzzles is one likely contributor to healthy ageing’. Crossword puzzles were discredited a few years ago at another Australian University as only keeping a small part of the mind healthy. This is also a part-time solution to a full-time problem.

My research has shown that for successful and healthy ageing we need to have a purpose in life, such as continuing with work, part-time or full-time, or have a new career or hobby which we really enjoy, and which takes up a substantial part of our lives.

Retirement, if taken near age 65 years, can span 20 or 30 years and it needs more than just doing puzzles to be fulfilling and to keep most of the mind active. There is a lot of negative publicity about the ageing and if we are seen to be doing something exciting and worthwhile then this negativity will have even less foundation.

In the UK, applicants for grants for ageing research now have to include older people on their research team. As older people are trained for this they will become aware of how inaccurate much of the current research is and how much will have to be scrapped as older people tell ageing as it is. We need to fast track this to save money.

You’d think we would have learnt from mistakes with women’s issues in the past, and research into coloured people,which still is often done solely by non-coloured people. Involving the target audience at every stage in any field of research should be compulsory- we’ve known for years that it is necessary for accurate results.

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