Ageing research at OsloMet deals with several dimensions of being older and ageing, including care for older persons, active ageing, age-friendly societies, ageing processes and transitions during the older years.
The demographic trend of increasing numbers and proportions of older people living longer will make ageing research even more important in years to come, including studies highlighting the consequences of an ageing population.
The network for ageing research aims to gather expertise related to ageing grounded in the various departments and faculties of the university. The overall goal of the network is to stimulate cooperation across research groups, institutes and professional disciplines to contribute to increased scientific production and knowledge and increase the visibility of OsloMet as a leading ageing research environment.
Within the network, the exchange of knowledge and information about good data sources will be important. The Norwegian Life Course, Ageing and Generation Study (NorLAG) is central here.
An ageing population characterises the development of today’s welfare society and will do so for a long time to come. The need for knowledge about the consequences of an increasing number and proportion of older people with greater life expectancies is high for both private and public actors that offer services aimed at older persons.
The ageing population not only gets older, it also becomes more heterogeneous, and demographic development takes place differently in cities compared to in the country.
Interdisciplinary research at OsloMet provides a good starting point for looking into the patterns and consequences of the ageing population. Key questions going forward are related to how differences in ageing and longer lives unfold across geography, gender, socioeconomic status and country background.
Since the ageing of the population leads to dramatic changes in the balance between older and young persons in society, an important focus of the research is the changing relationships between generations, both within the family and society.
Health and care services
Demographic changes are leading to a growing gap between supply and demand for health and care services, where complex service needs are increasing in parallel with a shortage of care resources for older persons.
There is a great need for interdisciplinary research on the impact of this development on older service users and their relatives at both societal and individual levels.
OsloMet has both social and health science researchers involved in research on health and care services for older persons. Key research issues are related to access and the quality and organisation of these services. This includes how municipalities prioritise who should receive services, how much they should receive and the content of the services.
Also important is research that highlights the working conditions of the healthcare professionals who provide the services, the development of a private commercial health and care services market, the interaction between public services and family care, user involvement, health interventions and the implementation of evidence-based knowledge.
Active and healthy ageing
Active and healthy ageing is about optimising conditions for health, participation and safety to improve older people’s quality of life. In addition to the opportunity to remain physically active or to participate in the labour force, the theme refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs.
An important research question is related to how function can be maintained and improved during the older years through, among other things, physical and social activity. Another key research question is how to facilitate participation in various arenas, such as work life, family and the local community, including those who are frail, disabled and/or in need of care and help.
Accordingly, it is important to have knowledge of what constitutes good public health and a good quality of life for individuals and how depression and social isolation in older years can be prevented.
Active and healthy ageing, one of the core themes of both health and social sciences at OsloMet, contribute to important knowledge development in the ageing research field.
Social participation occurs across a wide range of environments, including work and family, local community and wider society and includes voluntary work and cultural and religious participation. Participation is important for both health and well-being.
Promoting equal opportunities for participation for all groups is therefore a key political goal to avoid social exclusion and loneliness in older years and the societal costs this entails.
Current research questions related to the professional activity of older persons include what can contribute to increased retirement age and how to combine paid and unpaid work. Factors related to health restrictions, transitions such as retirement, loss of close family members and friends and reduced physical and social activity mean that older people are at greater risk than younger people of being excluded.
Central to research in this field is shedding light on the causes and consequences of social exclusion to gain better knowledge of what it takes to achieve an inclusive society that removes barriers to participation, also for vulnerable groups.
An ageing population increases the need for age-friendly environments. Age-friendly environments revolve around how our physical environments can be facilitated to promote participation, self-reliance and active ageing, regardless of age, income and functional level.
This means, for example, housing, communities and transport systems having good accessibility and facilitating the use of technology, which allows more people to live the simpler life that technological solutions provide. By putting the user’s perspective first, facilitating age-friendly environments is about reducing pressure on public welfare services.
The goal of age-friendly environments is justified by active ageing, participation and self-reliance among older people. However, as older people are a heterogeneous group with different desires and needs, the adaptation of age-friendly environments must consider different approaches and practical solutions.
Key questions for adapted policy measures, therefore, are age-friendly for whom, in what way and to what extent?
Pensions, finances and consumption
A key field of research is investigating how public and private pensions in conjunction with the tax system and other sources of income affect the economic welfare of older persons.
Current research questions are how the pension system affects the transition from work to pension and what effects the overall pension system and its various components have on the level of income poverty, the degree of income inequality and the income gap between male and female pensioners.
Another important aspect is wealth. Although older persons in Norway are on average more affluent than ever before, there are significant differences across groups.
The interdisciplinary research at OsloMet will contribute with increased knowledge about the older population’s preferences regarding their finances and their consumption patterns.
Inspired by ideas from the so-called “silver economy”, the emphasis is on technological, market-oriented and institutional innovations to adapt the economy to the ongoing ageing of the population.
- The Work-retirement Transition
- Combining Work and Care for Older Parents (CoWorkCare)
- A Multidimensional Approach to Social Exclusion in Later Life – Health Consequences for Ageing Populations (AMASE)
- ACCESS Life Course Database: Upgrade and Expansion
- Inequalities in Ageing Well and the Significance of Transitions in Later Life (TRILL)
- Shades of Grey: Negotiating Age Norms, Class and Gender in the time of Pension Reform
- A Life Course Perspective on the Gendered Pathways of Exclusion from Social Relations in Later Life, and its Consequences for Health and Wellbeing (GENPATH)
- The IPIC Study
- Virtual Presence: A Cultural Analysis of the Emergence of 'Telepresence Technologies' as a Solution to Loneliness