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Exploring interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of older people

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Latest Interventions in Cognitive Ageing seminar held at Heriot-Watt

The research team hosted the second Interventions in Cognitive Ageing seminar at Heriot-Watt University at the end of June. The seminar began with a keynote presentation from Dr Christina Röcke, University of Zurich, which explored “Healthy ageing as captured in daily life: activities, emotions and cognition”. Christine Bell, Executive Officer at Cycling Without Age Scotland, then described how Cycling Without Age has become established in Scotland by sharing stories from many of those involved.

The second keynote presentation of the afternoon was given by Dr Ruth Peters, Neuroscience Research Australia, exploring "Risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia, gaps in the evidence base and the next steps". Project 
Director Dr Alan Gow closed the seminar with a summary of how findings from the What Keeps You Sharp? survey were being used to discuss changes in thinking skills, plus updates from The Intervention Factory project. The project continues to recruit people aged 65 and over to take part; if you know anyone who might be interested in getting involved in this research, you can download and share the participant recruitment poster and flyer.

During the breaks, attendees had the opportunity to discuss research on ageing and health at the poster sessions, which included recent analysis from members of the research team Dr Ria Vaportzis, Malwina Niechcial and Calum Marr, as well as work from colleagues across Heriot-Watt University and beyond. 
Elizabeth Bryan, Community Development Coordinator at Age Scotland, and colleagues shared materials from their work within communities across Scotland, and people were also able to experience a trishaw ride with the Cycling Without Age Scotland team!

Seminar 2018Seminar 2018Seminar 2018You can access slides from many of the speakers here and photographs from the event are on the Heriot-Watt Psychology Facebook page. The next Interventions in Cognitive Ageing seminar will be held in 2019. Email healthyageing@hw.ac.uk to receive details of this and other events. 

July 2018


Older people cycling project to be rolled-out nationally

Academics from Heriot-Watt University are due to help with a nationwide scheme to get older people on their bikes.

Following a successful trial in Falkirk, the bike initiative will now be rolled out across Scotland, encouraging older people to stay active, socialise and feel an integral part of their wider community.

Read more...

May 2018


Bike scheme for elderly rolled out across Scotland

Older people across Scotland will be able to stay active and socialise through an innovative cycling scheme being rolled out nationally.

Following a successful pilot scheme in Falkirk, the Scottish Government is providing £300,000 to set up the Cycling Without Age (CWA) project across the country. Originating in Denmark, CWA encourages volunteers to take older people for bike rides, using specially designed ‘trishaws’. It aims to help socially isolated older people meet others and be physically active.

Read more...

May 2018


Research – we’re having a laugh…

Our research academics do important work that is genuinely changing lives and policy in a whole host of areas. Pulling them out of their comfort zone and in front of a non-academic audience isn’t always the easiest of tasks, but Alan Gow from our Psychology Department is no stranger to the stage. Alan is leading research on the effects of ageing on the brain and thinking skills and will be making his fourth Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas outing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, along with Anna Sedda, who is presenting on her work on disgust. Alan told us a bit more about CODI.

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May 2018


Register for our Interventions in Cognitive Ageing 2018 seminar

Interventions in Cognitive Ageing 2018 seminar PosterThe Ageing Lab at Heriot-Watt University is hosting its second annual seminar exploring intervention research in cognitive ageing. Dr Christina Röcke (University of Zurich) and Dr Ruth Peters (Neuroscience Research Australia) will deliver keynote presentations, and Christine Bell will showcase the work of Cycling Without Age Scotland (www.cyclingwithoutage.scot/).

Updates on the Ageing Lab’s current research project, The Intervention Factory, will also be included.


The seminar is being held in the James Watt Centre (JW2) at Heriot-Watt’s Riccarton Campus on 29th June 2018, from 1.30-5.30pm including poster sessions and refreshments. All are welcome to attend. To register for the event, please email healthyageing@hw.ac.uk.

You can download a poster here; please circulate the details to any colleagues and networks you think might be interested.

May 2018


UK survey reveals beliefs about staying sharp

What Keeps You Sharp Report coverPeople across the UK expect their memory to worsen in their 50s, according to new research from Heriot-Watt University.

The results from the “What Keeps You Sharp?” survey, released today, reveals the majority of those asked believe lifestyle and genetics are equally important contributors to the changes they might experience.

Almost nine out of 10 people are of the opinion that there are things they can do to maintain or improve their thinking skills; however, when asked if they knew what those things were, less than six in 10 were sure. More than 3000 people aged between 40 to 98 years-old responded to the study from across the UK.

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You can view and download the "What Keeps You Sharp?" report here; printed copies can also be requested by contacting the research team.

Age UK blog: New UK survey reveals our beliefs about staying sharp in later life

Irish Examiner: Brain smart: How to age-proof your memory

April 2018


Attractive attractions for older people

Senior VisitorsIt’s not uncommon for visitor attractions to create tailored programmes for different groups, often focussing on something that’s expected to be particularly appealing to that demographic. But when it comes to older people, provision is often targeted towards being dementia-friendly. However, what about those people in their 70s, 80s or older with no specific impairment…might there be a way to create a programme to suit their needs and interests within our museums and heritage attractions?

Read more...

March 2018


Ageing Lab on the airwaves

BBC Radio Scotland Personal Best, presented by Gillian Russell: Couples' Coaching Cards & Growth Mindset (broadcast 12 and 17 February 2018), listen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09rk6s7.

BBC Radio Scotland Brainwaves, presented by Pennie Latin: How To Stay Sharp (broadcast 7 and 11 February 2018), listen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09qqmfg. You can also read a summary of the piece at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3tlcDfjmfP0zRdbLHwTZZzJ/steps-we-can-take-now-to-keep-our-brains-sharper-for-longer.

February 2018


Starting a new activity could help major research study

Volunteers from the Edinburgh and Lothians are being sought as part of a major research study examining how thinking and memory skills change as we age.

The study will include 300 adults aged 65 and over who will undergo a range of cognitive and psychological assessments before they start their new activity.

The activities chosen will vary in terms of the mental, social or physical engagement, but might include participating in language classes, taking up a sport or meeting new people in social clubs. After following their activity for 2-3 months, the volunteers will return for repeat assessments.

Read more...

Participant recruitment posterNew Year...new activity? Can taking up a new activity help improve our thinking skills as we age?

If you’re aged 65 or over and would like to help us find out, please get in touch.

If you know anyone who might be interested in getting involved in our research, you can also download and share a poster and flyer.

January 2018


You can read older news items in the News archive: 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014.