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The HAGIS launch conference

Ageing and Cognitive Decline: Longitudinal Perspectives- was successfully held on Friday 24th July at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The first half of the session was chaired by Professor Emma Reynish. Emma firstly introduced Professor Ian Deary, from the University of Edinburgh, who started the day by talking about his research on the Lothian Birth Cohorts. More specifically, he discussed the possible factors which contribute to greater cognitive decline in older age. Ian also outlined the cognitive domains which will be assessed in the pilot of HAGIS.

Next, Professor Ken Langa, from the University of Michigan, presented some interesting findings from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Ageing, Demography And Memory Study (ADAMS) - a supplement to the HRS.  In particular, Ken highlighted the prevalence of dementia and cognitive impairment in the US and the likely future increase in the actual number of people experiencing cognitive impairment as a result of an increasing elderly population. Another key message that Ken delivered was the high societal cost of care for cognitively impaired patients, 49% of which, accrues to informal caregivers.

The second half of the day was chaired by Professor Marion McMurdo. Marion began by introducing Professor Robert Wright, from the University of Strathclyde, who talked about financial literacy and its relationship with ageing and cognition. Robert outlined the meaning and measures of financial literacy and presented some research from the British Election Study (BES) which suggested that some financial concepts are poorly understood by the British population. Furthermore, Robert explored the importance of understanding the relationship between cognition and financial literacy and pointed to some preliminary results from The Irish Longitudinal Ageing (TILDA) study, which suggest cognitive ability, in several different domains, significantly predicts financial literacy.

Lastly, Professor David Bell, Principal Investigator for HAGIS, closed the day by talking about the benefits of data linkage to ageing research. David presented some findings from a recent project with the Scottish Government which linked patient’s health and social care records from 5 local authorities in Scotland. Additionally, David updated the audience on the current progress of HAGIS and the future of the project.

Overall, the presentations each pointed to the important role that HAGIS will play in helping to understand the ageing process in Scotland, especially in the presence of the ageing population facing us today. Thanks to all who attended, we hope to see you again soon!

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