The number of over-50s in Derry and Strabane District Council is set to jump by 17,000 by 2037 with a three-fold jump in the numbers aged over 85 also projected by the same date.
Professor Ian Young from Queen’s University’s ‘NICOLA’ project – Northern Ireland’s largest public health research project - will be working with 700 local people to understand the implications.
Professor Ian Young, Principal Investigator of the NICOLA Project, said: “NICOLA is the largest public health research project ever undertaken in Northern Ireland and will track the lives of 8,500 over-50s across Northern Ireland as they grow older.
“Over 300 participants from the local council area have taken part in the first stage of the project and we’re now ready to move into the next phase.
”Some local participants have already completed their health assessment whilst a new tranche of over-50s are currently being contacted to join the project.”
NICOLA consists of three stages, an interview conducted in the home, a questionnaire and a health assessment which will take place at the new Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility at Belfast City Hospital.
The assessments, completed by registered nurses, will include blood pressure readings, brain function (thinking) tests, blood sample collection and a detailed eye examination using equipment not available elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Follow-up interviews will be conducted every two years.
Professor Young added: “NICOLA will help us change the way we live for the better by helping shape at least ten major Government policies, tackling everything from pensions and benefits to dementia services and fuel poverty.”
“In addition to gaining a better understanding of their own health and wellbeing, participants will leave a tangible legacy for future generations by giving policy makers, for the first time, real data upon which to base their decisions.”