SINGAPORE, 17 October 2018 - With people living longer, the 'longevity dividend' is the subject of a global conference in Singapore today, organised by Duke-NUS Medical School's Centre for Ageing Research and Education (CARE) and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). Leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of population ageing from around the world converged at the conference to share insights surrounding four key areas - Healthy Ageing, Interventions to Support Elderly at Risk, Employment and Employability as well as Ageing, Technology and the Environment.
Titled 'Ageing, Longevity and Health - New Frontiers and Perspectives,' the 2018 IARU Ageing, Longevity and Health (ALH) Scientific and Graduate Student Conference was hosted by CARE at Duke-NUS Medical School, and fielded speakers on various aspects of the science, practice and experience of ALH, exploring related issues around labour, housing, technology, urban planning, social participation and intergenerational relationships. While people have become intensely aware of the need to age healthily, conference organisers remarked, there is also a need to raise the standards of later life for all segments of the older population, particularly those at risk.
"With the world's population ageing at an unprecedented rate and Singapore being one of the fastest ageing societies, we are honoured to host this timely and important conference," A/Prof. Angelique Chan, Executive Director of CARE and Associate Professor, Health Services & Systems Research Programme, Duke NUS. "International exchanges, research collaborations and the sharing of knowledge, experiences and best practices in this field is critical in preparing societies to best harness the longevity dividend that comes with longer years of healthy, active and productive life."
A research brief published by CARE in August 2018 reported that the proportion of older Singaporeans, aged 60 and above in the labour force is rising - from 5.5 percent in 2006 to 12 percent in 2015 - and, as their overall lifespan increases, will also live longer in retirement. At the current minimum retirement age of 62, and with an average life expectancy of 84 years old, an older Singaporean could expect to spend 22 years in retirement. This changing trajectory, while rife with exciting possibilities, is also a cause for concern and calls for urgent innovations to enhance older adults' capacities and potentials.
Among the IARU researchers participating at the conference was Prof. Sarah Harper, from the University of Oxford, UK, and Co-Director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, who shared the welcome session with A/Prof. Chan. "Besides providing a platform for featuring the key research initiatives of the ALH network members, this Conference also provides an opportunity for graduate students in the IARU network to explore collaborations within IARU and with researchers in Singapore on a topic that will only continue to grow in importance," stated Prof. Harper.
The conference featured renowned researchers from IARU member universities as well as other research centres, including the following:
- Prof. Lene Juel Rasmussen, Managing Director, Center for Healthy Aging; Professor, University of Copenhagen, speaking on Approaches to Understanding Healthy Ageing.
- Prof. Brian Kennedy, Director, Centre for Healthy Ageing, National University Health System, and Distinguished Professor, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University Singapore, speaking on Conserved Modulators of Ageing: Will They Work In Humans?
- Prof. Koh Woon Puay, Director, Centre for Clinician-Scientist Development, and Professor, Health Services and Systems Research, Duke-NUS Medical School, speaking on The Influence of Midlife Weight Change on Cognitive Impairment in Old Age: The Singapore Chinese Health Study.
- A/Prof. Zhang Lei, Institute of Population Research, Peking University, speaking on The Unmet Needs of Older Adults Living with Disability Seeking Health Related Services: Implications for the Design of Integrated Models of Service Provision.
- A/Prof. Miao Chun Yan, Director, Joint NTU-UBC Research Centre of Excellence in Active Living for the Elderly, and Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University, speaking on AI for Ageless Ageing.