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The good life for the elderly ought to be based on knowledge and research from all of Denmark

The pandemic has demanded and accelerated strong collaboration across research areas, disciplines, organisations and sectors. We can learn a lot from this for coming mutual solutions to new infectious viral outbreaks along the lines of Covid-19, and better health for the elderly, optimum patient treatment, greater health equality etc. This is the view of the Deans of Denmark’s health science faculties, and they point towards healthy aging as an important initiative.

2021.01.21 | Lars Bo Nielsen, Ulla Wewer, Ole Skøtt og Lars Hvilsted Rasmussen

[Translate to English:] De fire sundhedsvidenskabelige dekaner diskuterer i Altinget tirsdag den 19. januar 2020, hvordan Danmark via tværfaglig forskning og viden fra hele landet kan blive verdens bedste land at blive ældre i.

The four health science deans discuss in Altinget on Tuesday 19 January 2020 How Denmark can become the best country in the world to grow older via interdisciplinary research and knowledge from all over the country.


In the middle of December, the Danish Parliament agreed on the implementation of DKK 56 million for The Good Life for the Elderly, while the UN General Assembly named the coming decade as The Decade of Healthy Ageing. Here at the beginning of 2021, the concerted handling of the pandemic remains the key health challenge and has created new ways of collaborating both nationally and internationally. We wish to build on these experiences, so that research into ageing is ready to meet and effectively interact with societal challenges and shared visions of the good life for the elderly.

We have long been aware that large parts of the world are facing significant demographic changes. According to the Danish Health Authority’s Elderly Profile, in 2050 24 per cent of the Danish population will be over the age of 65, and according to projections from the Danish Regions, in 2025 the healthcare system will have to treat 120,000 more patients than today. If Denmark wishes to continue ensuring it has a strong welfare system, over the coming years we must find even more sustainable solutions of technological, financial, organisational and health character.

The solutions must be found through collaboration and interdisciplinarity

Over the last 10-15 years, we have focused on creating knowledge and finding methods in a wide range of areas, so that more people can maintain strong physical and mental functions and continue to enjoy a vital old age with a good quality of life.

We know that ageing is a complex interplay between biological, social, environmental, cultural and psychological factors and that these impact both the individual and larger populations. Because of this, we must also think and work together when we wish to ensure that more people live long, healthy lives. There is a need to ensure less inequality, stronger roots and far more innovation when it comes to initiatives in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, disease treatment, rehabilitation, and the care of our elderly – and often chronically ill – fellow citizens.

Interdisciplinarity is an important precondition for innovation and for solving the many challenges. With its new ‘The Decade of Healthy Ageing' platform, the WHO wishes to accelerate new collaborations and partnerships. Denmark's universities also want to ensure that increased collaboration and innovative thinking is based on research-based evidence and knowledge from all over Denmark. We wish to contribute to a shared vision of making Denmark the best country in the world to grow old in. As citizen and patient. Worker and pensioner.

We must utilise the research into healthy aging

At all of Denmark's universities, researchers in the field of ageing can showcase important basic research and many strong examples of project-based collaborations with national organisations, municipalities, associations and other practice-centred stakeholders.

Similarly, the country’s researchers in the field of aging have created strong relations in international research networks and close collaborations with research-intensive universities, the EU and the WHO – thereby contributing to strengthening Danish research and embedding knowledge. The next obvious step is to support and develop best practice sharing across institutional divisions and national borders.

In Denmark, we have a solid foundation to build upon. We can incorporate research-based and application-oriented knowledge, citizen involvement and thereby increase focus on getting research and practice to work closely together. A priority should be given to announcements and needs that both politicians and researchers – as well as employees in the healthcare system and the nursing sector – can agree upon. The joint handling of COVID-19 in the past year is a strong testament to the fact that increased knowledge-sharing and strong collaboration across disciplinary boundaries accelerates the speed of good solutions.

Collaboration on research, education, innovation and the embedding of knowledge and evidence

The health science faculties wish to continue contributing with basic research and also to reach out even more to Denmark’s other educational institutions and knowledge organisations. And to the many vital stakeholders who work in practical ways close to the citizens. Those who have specific experience with the biggest barriers and obstacles to ensuring that more citizens live good and active lives as elderly.

In Denmark, we educate talented and sought-after graduates for our healthcare system. This is true of both the universities and the practice-based educational programmes. But we can become even better at developing common tracks across the educational sectors. So that our graduates, continuing education, specialist areas and basic modules promote healthy aging and create value for our citizens.

We wish to see Denmark leading the way, so that our medical doctors, our health science graduates, our nurses and our care staff, find it natural to work closely together on a holistic understanding of the needs of citizens and patients . One of the many factors here is the need to accommodate and address the need for citizens and patients to be the focus of and involved in promoting their own health and treatment.

In 2020, the global pandemic has affected our behaviour and more than ever placed health, hygiene, patient treatment and research on the agenda. The pandemic has also clearly emphasised the importance of research and interdisciplinary collaboration in order to solve major societal challenges. 

Concurrently with the continued development and distribution of the vaccines, 2021 will hopefully also give all of us more time and resources to work further with the more fundamental, ageing-related challenges in our society.

We would thus like to extend an invitation to form a partner organisation that can work together to take joint steps towards Denmark becoming the best country in the world to grow older in.

Research, Technical / administrative staff, External target group, Health, Research, Academic staff, Health, Policy and strategy, Health and disease, PhD students