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The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)

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The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) is a large-scale, nationally representative study of 8178 community living individuals aged 50 and over in Ireland. It is the most ambitious study of ageing ever carried out in Ireland and represents a step-change in terms of data, knowledge and understanding of ageing with which to inform policy and novel research. The study is being carried out by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with an inter-disciplinary panel of scientific researchers, with expertise in various fields of ageing, from Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT), Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). A group of international scientists also advise the TILDA investigators.

Background & Reach:

Ireland shares with other developed countries the prospect of rapid and sustained population ageing. The age distribution of the Irish population is undergoing a dramatic change at present and this trend is predicted to continue into the future. People are living longer, and older persons represent a larger proportion of the population. In Ireland, the proportion of the population aged ≥65 years has remained steady at ∼11% for the past 40 years. However, it is projected that this proportion will rise to 14% by 2021 and to 19% by 2031. The greatest increase will be in the oldest old, aged >80 years, which is expected to more than treble by 2036. This change in the demographic profile of the Irish population poses a major public health challenge.

Unlike the situation in the USA, the UK and many other developed countries, there have been no large population-based cohort studies in Ireland to inform research on healthy ageing. The purpose of TILDA is to bring about a step change in the quality, quantity and prominence of information and research about ageing in Ireland. The study has been harmonized with leading international research so as to ensure best practice and comparability of results. TILDA is unique among longitudinal studies in the depth of physical, mental health and cognitive measures and the quality of objective measures and technologies used for collection.


The first wave of the study took place from October 2009 to July 2011 and involved an extensive face-to-face interview, a questionnaire and a comprehensive health assessment either in a dedicated centre or in the home. These same individuals will be followed over a 10 year period and they are currently participating in wave 2 of the study.
The second wave of data collection commenced this year. TILDA is particularly unique amongst longitudinal studies internationally in the breath of physical, mental health and cognitive measures collected.
Fieldwork involved interviews using computer-aided personal interviewing (CAPI) techniques and either a visit by the respondent to a TILDA Health Assessment Centre where appropriate medical measurement facilities were available or a visit to the respondents’ home by a qualified research nurse to take physical measurements and bio-medical samples.  A self completion questionnaire was also requested of all respondents.

Its early results indicate a high prevalence of untreated depression and anxiety, suggesting that, as a consequence, the older Irish population is at high risk of physical illness and disability, cognitive impairment and dementia.

Key Collaborations with other Datasets

In all cases, the TILDA measures are compared against three studies: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA); the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) which is pan-European, and the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) conducted in the United States.
The research will be conducted in collaboration with the Geary Institute at UCD, NUI Galway, the University of Mannheim, Germany, Cambridge University and the NBER, Massachusetts, USA.

Funding and Grants:

To date TILDA has received combined contributions amounting to €26m. Our main funders are the Department of Health, Irish Life and Permanent Plc, and The Atlantic Philanthropies.

Additional funding and grants awarded since 2010
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) awarded TILDA €68K in 2007. In 2010 TILDA received grants from the Centre for Ageing Research and Development Ireland (CARDI) for €19K as well as an award from the HRB for €298K to study frailty and cognitive impairment in the older population.

TILDA was also awarded a new HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE 2012) grant for €590k over 3 years to study the role of autonomic function in the development of cardiovascular disease in adults, thereby creating new biomarkers and opportunities for intervention. A further HRB population health science award for €300k over 3 years was made to study type 2 diabetes and its relation to cardiovascular function, cognitive function, mental health and socioeconomic factors.

The National Institute for Health awarded an R21 grant in September for €82,000 to cover the SHARE project. A student scholarship for €2,000 was also awarded to TILDA by the Health Research Board to cover an 8 week summer studentship to investigate vision, gait and fear of falling.

More information on these awards can be found on

Last updated 21 September 2016 Medical Gerontology (Email).