Spring Speakers Series: The meaning of life expectancy

John Gladman is Professor of the Medicine of Older People, Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing and Honorary Consultant in Health Care of Older People at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. He will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Spring Meeting in Nottingham.

Is getting old about decline or about personal growth?

At the BGS Spring Meeting in Nottingham, the organisers have, perhaps unwisely, asked me to give a lecture. I presume I was asked in view of the large and active research group in academic geriatrics in Nottingham, Derby and Leicester for which I have become the titular head (I think that’s what they call me). I intend to abuse this honour by ruminating on a few things that puzzle me as I approach my dotage and probably won’t mention our research at all.

If you want to know about the work our group is doing, then can I point you to our research brochure published on the East Midlands Research into Ageing (EMRAN) Discussion Paper Series. Incidentally, you can find out about research into ageing and the care of older people across the whole East Midlands in other brochures on the site.

One of the things I will ruminate on is the rise in life expectancy. It is amazing. I don’t think it is explained. And I worry about the years spent with disability.

Or perhaps, with frailty. It’s a concept that now gives me an answer for that dumb question asked at dinner parties along the lines of “At what age do I become geriatric?” which used to stump me in the past. I don’t, now, get invited to many dinner parties mind you. But that my second rumination.

My third rumination is that the closer I get to the age of my patients, the less inexplicable their decisions seem to be. Naturally, I am inclined that this is due to wisdom. So I think about the fact that with ageing people seem to be growing and declining at the same time.

It would be nice to see as many of you as possible at the meeting, to nod appropriately and applaud enthusiastically at the end (and not to heckle).

And if you have any answers to my ruminations in advance, please send them to me so I can put them in my talk and pretend they are my ideas.

Register for the BGS Spring Meeting, 11 – 13 April at NCC in Nottingham

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