Professor Andersen-Ranberg’s research has both a geriatric and an epidemiologic focus. Her geriatric research includes a focus on telehealth and preventive geriatrics to avoid acute hospital admission. In her epidemiological research has she has a main interest in health among centenarians and the oldest old. Since 2011 she is the Health Area Coordinator of SHARE-Denmark (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement i Europe), in addition to the Coordinator of SHARE Biobank. Professor Andersen-Ranberg is a member of the European Academy of Medicine in Ageing (EAMA).
What do you think are the most exciting present and future developments in your field of aging research?
How IT-technologies can mitigate societal and health care challenges caused by ageing populations.
We are currently living in an unprecedented situation where Europe is the oldest continent in the world, – demographically speaking! That people are living longer is a tremendous success, but it is unfortunately unbalanced by a parallel decline in fertility, which means that fewer people will be able to pay the taxes that support our Nordic welfare system. However, although we do see improvements in disability levels of older people, we do not have a clear picture of whether that is the case for morbidities too. Therefore we need to follow the health trends of the ageing populations. But even if older people are healthier, the large birth cohorts born after WW2 will soon enter the age group of oldest old, and just by their numbers challenge the tax funded health care systems. In the old days older patients were in-patients for weeks or months. Increasing health care expenditures have lead to shortening of hospital stays, as well as closure of smaller hospitals.
So with larger populations of older people we need to focus on innovative solutions, and I strongly believe that introducing telemedicine is one way to go. The Nordic countries share the concept of a well developed primary home care system with educated health care professionals. Why don’t we exploit this primary care resource and let them be the first-line officers, whom with the support of a telemedicine toolkit and a centrally located physician may diagnose, initiate treatment, monitor treatment effects and later follow-up on health outcomes and preventive measures? And perhaps collaborate with a geriatric outpatient clinic? This is a fascinating area of development which I hope I can contribute to through my research.
24NKG is a multidisciplinary conference where the participants have the opportunity to broaden their perspective beyond the themes of their own immediate research areas. How would you like to motivate humanists and social scientists to attend your lecture?
Cross-disciplinary knowledge and research is of great importance if we want to understand when, where and how we can use IT-technologies. Compared to other industrialized countries the Nordic countries benefit from a high and steadily growing proportion of IT-literate older persons. We need to embrace the new technology to understand how it may support independent living, active ageing, and well-being.
In your mind, how can the Nordic Congress contribute to aging research in general? What do you expect from 24NKG?
As all the Nordic countries build their health and social care delivery on the Nordic Welfare model we also share a common mindset. This allows us to not only learn from our Nordic colleagues, but also to more easily implement new knowledge in our gerontological and geriatric work. From attending 24NKG I expect to gain knowledge as well as discussing relevant topics and ideas with my Nordic colleagues.