Plans for the future of NSHD
The proportion of the UK population aged 65 years and over was 16 per cent in 2008 and is expected to reach 23 per cent by 2033. We expect more than 300 study members will be celebrating their 100th birthday by 2046.
The increase in life expectancy which lies behind these figures can be viewed as a success of human endeavour in improving the environment, whether through better childhood nutrition, education, medical science, public health, or lifestyle change. However the ageing of the population is more often viewed as a ‘grand challenge’, both for society and for the individual.
The long-term scientific vision for NSHD is to capture change in physical and cognitive capability and in the main body systems contributing to the chance of healthy ageing or a life affected by disease and disability.
We also want to capture change in mental health and wellbeing, everyday activities and social participation.
In each case we wish to investigate the lifetime characteristics that are associated with good health as well as with poor health. We also want to study resilience – what are the lifetime characteristics of those who maintain wellbeing despite experiencing poor health, or who maintain high levels of physical and cognitive capability despite a high risk factor burden.
Better understanding of how health and ageing are affected by experiences and exposures earlier in life may indicate when interventions may have their greatest chance of improving human health and the quality, as well as the length of life.