A major report concludes the challenges of ageing need to be considered across all stages of life.
'Transforming the Future of Ageing' was compiled by a working group of leading researchers and clinicians from across Europe, including Alan Gow, Professor in Psychology at Heriot-Watt University
Professor Jean-Pierre Michel, working group chair, said: "In Europe and around the world, people are living longer than ever before. This is one of the greatest achievements of the past century.
"But it also brings challenges for our societies and the European Union as a whole. We must adjust to what is projected to be an ageing and shrinking workforce, and find financially viable ways to deliver high-quality healthcare for all."
The report highlighted that while genetic factors are important to a range of outcomes, behaviours and lifestyles are often more important. Key lifestyle factors related to diverse age-related outcomes include being physically active and following a healthy diet.
The report makes a number of policy recommendations to support and promote behaviours across the life course. Those recommendations are being discussed at meetings across Europe, beginning in Portugal, France and Romania, with Professor Gow accompanying the team to Israel and Italy in the coming months.
Professor Gow, whose contributions were particularly focused on aspects of brain health, noted: "The report represents an evidence summary from diverse specialisms, but there emerged many shared risk and protective factors. The key thing that SAPEA and colleagues will be aiming for is to see how those factors can be targets for action."
The report was an initiative of SAPEA, the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies. SAPEA provides independent, interdisciplinary, and evidence-based scientific advice to the European Commission as part of the Scientific Advice Mechanism.
An executive summary and the full report can be downloaded here.