Newcastle 85+ Study

The Newcastle 85+ Study was the first stage of the biggest population-based longitudinal study of health and ageing in the over-85s anywhere in the world and provided new insights into health factors as the population becomes older. It was a flagship programme for the University and the most developed study of its kind in the world.

85+ study logoThe 85+ Study aimed to:

  • assess the spectrum of health in the oldest old
  • examine the associations of health trajectories and outcomes with biological, clinical and social factors as the cohort ages
  • identify factors which contribute to the maintenance of health and independence
  • advance understanding of the biological nature of human ageing

The study began in 2006 and was led by Professor Tom Kirkwood. It included a multidisciplinary research team from the former Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University and a participant cohort of more than 1,000 85-year olds from Newcastle and North Tyneside.

The 85+ Study has published a growing stream of research findings. It contributed to a better informed picture of the health and challenges faced by today’s older people. As we followed the participants further into old age the results became ever richer.

Perhaps the best finding of all was summed up in by one of the research nurse team:

“We have helped our participants search for lost glasses, open stubborn jars, change light bulbs, search for escaped budgies, learn a little Braille, fix hearing aids, take out hair curlers and admire endless photographs of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

We have peered into participants’ mouths, exposed their chests, poked needles into their arms, examined the contents of their fridges, made them blow into a cardboard tube until they’re blue in the face and asked them hundreds of personal questions.

Throughout all this they have responded with patience, good humour and at times grim stoicism which is typical of their generation and which makes it a privilege and a pleasure to continue to be part of this study.”