Why study older people? One researcher tells us

Sometimes you choose your area of research, but all too often it chooses you. Circumstances, opportunities, the state of the world and economic considerations nearly always play a part. So it was for Mary Breheny (now Associate Professor in Massey University’s School of Health Sciences). Here’s what she says:

More than ten years ago, I had a freshly minted PhD and was about to launch my research career with a postdoctoral fellowship. My supervisor and I discussed where to next, when she dropped into the conversation: “you will have to do older people, that’s what we are doing now”. I confess, my heart sank. Research on older people was not my idea of an exciting research career.

Black and white portrait of old couple in home garden

Nobody studied old people or aging in the early or mid-20th century (Wikimedia)

Ageing and old people as a field of study is pretty new. As a result, we are blessed with a massive amount of new information about how we age. That’s been crucial to my own “Almost Old” work.

To her surprise, Mary Breheny discovered that the study of older people brings multiple joys.

Dr. Judith Davey invited Mary Breheny to explain this on the Age Concern blog, On Research.

Why study older people? Mary Breheny tells us here

What do other researchers feel about their work in this field?

After reading this eloquent manifesto, I’m keen to discover how other researchers feel about the study of older people. In particular, what are the rewards? If you study in this field, please comment on this blog or contact me another way. I know there’s much more to be said!

For that reason, please share this blog post with anyone you know who studies older people. Thank you!



One thought on “Why study older people? One researcher tells us

  1. JT Twissel says:

    We all go through similar phases in life but everyone I know who is getting “up there” is having a different experience – so I can see where studying the elderly would be fascinating.

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