Spotlight on ageing at Keele conference


Posted on 06 July 2012
Ageing has become a key issue for society and most of us can now expect to live well into old age. Furthering our understanding and raising awareness of the challenges and opportunities later life may bring is of concern to each and every one of us.

Inequality in later life, care of people with dementia, and the future of ageing research feature in the plenary sessions at a major international conference to be held at Keele University.  The British Society of Gerontology is hosting its 41st annual conference at the University from 11-13 July. The conference will raise awareness of the variety of research being conducted on the theme of ageing populations, drawing upon the range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Other topics to be discussed include environmental issues and ageing, health and well-being in later life, community and residential care, gender issues, and critical perspectives on poverty and social exclusion. 

Mim Bernard, Professor of Social Gerontology and President of the British Society of Gerontology comments:  “Ageing has become a key issue for society and most of us can now expect to live well into old age. Furthering our understanding and raising awareness of the challenges and opportunities later life may bring is of concern to each and every one of us.

“The British Society of Gerontology’s annual conference brings together researchers, academics, policy makers, practitioners and older people to learn about the latest research and consider the ways in which later life can be enhanced and improved. There is something for everyone at the conference: fabulous keynote speakers; a dazzling array of symposia and papers, pre-conference events and workshops; and a diverse social programme. It is a time for colleagues at all career stages to make new contacts; to catch up with old friends; and to leave with renewed passion for research into ageing.”

Key speakers at the conference will include Professor Toni Calasanti from the University of Virginia who will examine how individual experiences of ageing are affected by power relationships within society.   Her presentation will also explore the impact of ageism in contributing to inequality and discrimination in later life.  Professor Murna Downs from the University of Bradford Dementia Centre focuses her attention on the need to transform approaches to the care and support of people with dementia. She will argue that central to this process will be the involvement of people with dementia and their families in research and service development. Professor Downs will highlight the importance of promoting and supporting dementia friendly communities within which people with dementia can continue to live as citizens with rights and entitlements. 

The conference will host a panel discussion on the future of research into ageing, chaired by Professor Chris Phillipson of Keele University. Panel members will be: Sally-Marie Bamford (International Longevity Centre-UK); Mark Gorman (HelpAge International), Philly Hare (Joseph Rowntree Foundation) and Peter Lansley (University of Reading). The session will cover topics including priorities for research into gerontology; strengths and weaknesses in current ageing research; the role of users; research funding and related themes.

A theatre production, ‘Our Age, Our Stage’, will be premiered at the conference at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme.  The production has developed from ‘New Dynamics of Ageing’ funded research and the collaboration between Keele University, the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme and working closely with older people in the local community, exploring the role of the New Vic theatre and its contribution to social documentary as part of the history, culture and political landscape of the Potteries.