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New ESRC Seminar Series: ‘New Ageing Populations: Mapping Identities, Health, Needs and Responses across the Lifecourse’

The ESRC is funding a seminar series on the issues and implications arising from the emergence of ‘new ageing populations’, commencing October 2009. These seminars will be organised by Dr Karen Lowton (King’s College London), Professor Paul Higgs (University College London) and Dr Karen Ballard ( University of Surrey) and will take place at a number of different venues to which researchers, practitioners, policy makers, user groups and other interested parties are invited.

The aim of the series is to examine the nature and challenges presented by ‘new’ ageing populations, a term that covers a heterogeneous number of groups including those born with serious health conditions who did not previously survive to early adulthood, alongside those developing previously life-limiting conditions in early or mid-life and who are now routinely reaching mid- to late-adult life. These conditions include, but are not limited to, those born with Cystic Fibrosis, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Down’s Syndrome, as well as populations of people living with HIV. The numbers of individuals in these new ageing populations are increasing in terms of the types of underlying health conditions involved; the numbers reaching adulthood; and the lengths of their lives. These developments have occurred through the intended, as well as unintended, consequences of biomedical intervention as well as through positive changes in social attitudes and social circumstances.

However, although biomedicine has enabled both longer life spans and improvements in the quality of life for populations with these conditions, the increasing shift into older age means that new primary disorder-related conditions are often only clinically recognised and treated when a new age milestone has been reached for a significant number of people experiencing these conditions. The ‘newness’ of many of these disorders raises urgent questions of service configuration and delivery for these groups of ageing adults.

These seminars are designed to generate an exchange of knowledge about new ageing populations, not only in terms of the challenges and opportunities they represent but also how these groups are making us re-interpret what we know about ageing as a process and an expectation. Contributions will be invited from a range of disciplines and approaches; from History and Sociology, Social Gerontology and Epidemiology to representatives of Health Trusts and the Third Sector.

A key feature of this seminar series will be a focus on how ageing and identity interact among the different populations and how views from the disability movement can help us better understand the changing nature of these developments as they impact on individual narratives and experiences.

The first of six seminars will be held at the Institute of Gerontology, King’s College London. Further information will follow shortly, or if you would like to find out more about the seminar series please contact:


Karen Lowton - karen.lowton@kcl.ac.uk

Paul Higgs - p.higgs@ucl.ac.uk

Karen Ballard - k.ballard@surrey.ac.uk


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