SPACE: Supportive environments for Physical and social Activity, healthy ageing and CognitivE health
The number of people worldwide living with dementia and cognitive impairment is increasing, mainly due to people living longer, but some s research suggests that where we live also influences our brain health.
The complex social and physical environments where we live make some people more than others vulnerable to developing cognitive impairment. In other words, the factors that account for who is most likely to develop cognitive ill health due to the environment has less to do with 'how' we live and more to do with 'where' we live. We do not know how these factors interact to make urban environments a problem for brain health or which are the best policies and interventions for promoting healthy ageing and brain health for our poorest communities. This project aims to provide evidence for policies and practices that provide supportive urban environments to promote healthy ageing.
Working with a wide range of stakeholders, this project will explore the relationships between our biology, our lifestyles and our environment highlighting how they likely interact to affect brain health. The project will then analyse data from over 8,000 older people in Northern Ireland, and linking this to information about where they live, air pollution or the toxins in soil. We also intend to collect new data on a subgroup of 1,000 older people including more in-depth measures of brain health and better measures of physical activity, using GPS devices worn around the waist that monitor our locations. The project also involves workshops with local citizens to 'sense-check' our findings and promising prevention approaches.
Impact of Research
The project aims to influence the policy and practice or urban development and public health by producing:
- A map of the system in which our genes, lifestyle behaviours and urban environments interact to affect brain health, to help guide stakeholders towards policies and programmes that can improve brain health.
- An evidence base exploring how where we live affects our brain health.
- A suite of potential policies and interventions to improve brain health and promote health ageing 'tested' (in terms of acceptability and feasibility) with older people, business, industry and other stakeholders.
Major grants and funding
SPACE: Supportive environments for Physical and social Activity, healthy ageing and CognitivE health ESRC ES/V016075/1
Dr Ruth Hunter (PI) Centre for Public Health, QUB
Professor Geraint Ellis (CI) Sch of Natural and Built Environment, QUB
Professor Jennifer McKinley (CI) Sch of Natural and Built Environment, QUB
Dr Bernadette McGuinness (CI) Sch of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomed Sci, QUB
Professor Frank Kee (CI) Sch of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomed Sci, QUB
Professor Dermot O'Reilly (CI) Centre for Public Health, QUB
Dr Trung Q. Duong (CI) Sch of Electronics, Elec Eng & Comp Sci, QUB
Dr Amy-Jayne McKnight (CI) Sch of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomed Sci, QUB
Dr Claire Cleland (CI), Centre for Public Health, QUB
Dr Leandro Garcia (CI) Centre for Public Health, QUB
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing
SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities