The future of ageing

Report

Published 25/04/2023

Cover ageing report

This report sets out an ethical framework and recommendations for research and innovation related to ageing.

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Overview

Our report looks at the role that biomedical research and technological innovation has to play in responding to the needs of an ageing population. We have focused on three broad areas of research and innovation:

  • Research into biological ageing
  • Assistive, monitoring, and communications technologies such as health apps and smart home technologies
  • Data-driven detection and diagnosis of age-related conditions

Developments in these areas offer possible benefits in terms of supporting people to flourish in older age, but they can also raise significant ethical questions about how ageing is perceived, and how older adults are valued in our society.

In our report we identify the values, principles and factors that are most at stake in the context of research that seeks to influence our experience of ageing. We note that research and innovation connected with ageing is often influenced by negative attitudes to ageing, and by assumptions about the attributes and roles of older people in society.

While many people and organisations have a role to play in challenging and changing ageist attitudes within the research and technology sector, a key step in making progress on this would be ensuring that research funding systems promote and encourage these changes.

We believe that much more can be done to ensure research into ageing is conducted ethically, such as promoting inclusivity in research, and directing research and innovation towards addressing inequalities in health and wellbeing in older age.

We propose an ‘ethical framework’ to help everyone involved in conducting research relating to ageing to think through the ethical implications of their work.

We then set out 15 recommendations to policymakers, research funders, researchers, regulators and professional bodies, health care professionals and others involved in shaping research.


Project team

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Molly Gray

Project Manager

Molly is a Project Manager at the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.


Prior to this she was a Researcher, Bioethics and Policy at the Council and before that worked in both NHS clinical research and academic research in the field of breast cancer at Imperial College London. She has a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Reproductive Science and Women's Health.

Dan Steer

Dan Steer

Senior Public Affairs Officer

Dan works on public affairs activities for the Council, raising awareness of our work amongst decision makers. Prior to joining in 2021, Dan worked as the Public Affairs and Policy Officer for UK’s children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives. Dan has a BA in Politics and an MA in Political Communication from the University of Sheffield.

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Sarah Walker-Robson

Senior Communications Manager

Sarah leads our communications to raise awareness and promote discussion of our work amongst a range of audiences.

Sarah previously worked in development at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, after completing a Masters degree in Science, Culture and Communication.

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Orla Anandarajah

Digital Communications Officer

As part of our communications team, Orla works to raise awareness and promote discussion of our work amongst a range of audiences – including leading on the Council’s website and social media platforms.

Prior to joining us in 2022, she was the PR and Communications Assistant for The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, working across their NHS, Charity, and Private Care PR activities.

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