The quality of life and relationships, together with good mental health are key variables that must be considered when examining the concept of Successful Ageing (1).
Life years or the absence of disease is no longer a means of measurement and perhaps the best and most comprehensive description for any individual is that 'a person is considered to be ageing successfully when that person reaches their own potential and possesses a level of physical, social and psychological well being with which they are content.' (2)
Here at the Institute, our aim is to help people achieve their optimum physical, cognitive and mental health as well as maximise their engagement in life, in other words, to age successfully.
It is expected that, cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities will occur at some point in many older people's lives, however, ample proof exists that these disabilities can be modified through early detection and intervention. While a satisfactory level of Successful Ageing is usually achieved in collaboration with health professionals and policy makers, several factors that impact on Successful Ageing are also under some degree of personal control. Many of these factors are also potentially modifiable in mid life and beyond e.g. social engagement, regular exercise and adaptive coping skills.
Research shows that population based social interventions can help prevent many illnesses in community dwelling older people.
Proof also exists that the promotion of positive attitudes toward ageing by society and the media enables positive personal values and empowerment resulting not only in the improvement of the lives of older people but society as a whole.
The facilitation of independent living through the provision of appropriate 'built' environments, technology and innovation demonstrate high levels of success in breaking down the barriers to Successful Ageing. A sense of autonomy can usually result in well being and positivity for older people.
In essence, Successful Ageing it is a personal experience for each individual and can be achieved through psychological, social and medical inputs that optimise health and result in a fulfilling engagement with life. It is a highly achievable goal and can be attained through a combination of consideration, effort and involvement not only by older people and health professionals but by participants at every level of society.
Our ultimate mission is to drive the agenda of Successful Ageing forward in a proactive manner. Our objective, to ensure that Ireland becomes one of the best places in the world in which to grow old, will be achieved through innovation, collaboration and partnership, particularly with older people themselves.