The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing Wave 5 and 6 (TILDA)

One of the greatest demographic and social transformations facing Ireland is aging of its population, increased life expectancy and related challenges. Whereas Ireland has one of the youngest populations in the European Union, by 2046 a quarter of our population will be over 65 and the greatest increase will be in those 85 and above which will increase almost 5 fold.

Currently, healthy span is not keeping pace with lifespan due to the combined phenomena of aging, frailty and chronic disease. Together, these phenomena threaten the sustainability of healthcare systems, services and financial structures. Recent research shows that traditional biological system definitions e.g. by organ or by molecular interaction, do not necessarily correspond to the regulatory pathways undergoing dysregulation but rather mapping healthy aging is necessary to understanding how things go wrong and to redefine and adapt healthy aging trajectories. In many countries, collection of longitudinal multidisciplinary data is a key source of information to meet these information challenges and provide viable solutions for individuals and for societies. TILDA is the Irish longitudinal study in which ongoing data collections contribute to understanding how molecular, cellular and organismal ageing are connected with dynamic circumstances, including lifestyle and environmental factors and ways in which complex factors interact to put human physiological systems under pressure of adaptation. Already, TILDA research has contributed to important understanding of new biomarkers through this integrated research approach since Wave 1 in 2010. We have created an exceptional hub of global excellence to inform health, social care and economic innovations in the daily lives of Ireland's ageing population and extensive policy and public collaborations to disseminate and promote longer more functional life spans. TILDA has invested in extensive pilot (2006-2009) and validation work to secure a baseline cohort (2009-2010) for longitudinal follow up with over 140 million data points in 8500 participants aged 50 and older, developed robust national and international data linkage and collaborations to scale the quality and outreach of our research which is now harmonized to 13 international longitudinal studies, published in 26 subject areas, including 101 published TILDA- team peer reviewed papers, with 7 in press, been cited by 159 institutions worldwide, provided evidence-based for 48 Irish policy documents, outreach to over 10,000 social media learners, trained 28 PhDs and post docs, 140 field workers and 25 nurses and had over 140 media engagements including The New York Times and DnaIndia. TILDA has completed 3 waves of data collection and we are currently collecting data for Wave 4. Because the Irish population is relatively young (58% of Wave 1 were aged 50-65) and because natural experiments (such as the economic crash) and new policies (such as the prescription charges and incentives for generic prescriptions) continuously evolve, long term data collection is necessary to achieve our TILDA mission: by continuing to fund collection and preliminary analyses of data in future waves (2017-2021) we will map healthy ageing, redefine and adapt healthy ageing trajectories, contribute to making major strides in understanding how biological and physiological aging are connected with dynamic circumstances including life style, economic and environmental factors, inform how best to finance ageing, discover best systems for economic returns, inform and evaluate policies to delay the onset of age related diseases and incapacities, understand preparedness for retirement and financial security into old age and forge innovations across a continuum of settings thus reducing the prevalence of disabilities, including impairments, limitations and social and financial  articipation restrictions. TILDA will continue to train and educate a new generation of aspiring researchers and 'game changers' in ageing in Ireland.


Award Date
15 September 2016
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Rose Anne Kenny
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing