International Congress in Geriatric Medicine Highlights Healthcare Needs for an Ageing Europe

Posted on: 08 October 2010

Trinity College Dublin gerontologists played a central role in one of Europe’s largest scientific meetings on geriatric medicine held recently in Dublin.  The 2010 conference theme of Geriatric Medicine: New Challenges, New Techniques and New Technologies aimed to harness the existing strengths of geriatric medicine to meet the new challenges of an ageing demography and the changing economic climate by incorporating the rapid developments in many fields of technological development. 

President of both the Congress of the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society and the Irish Gerontological Society, and associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine at TCD, Professor Desmond O’Neill, acted as Chair of the joint conference.  Other TCD members of the committee included Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Rose Anne Kenny, Professor of Medical Gerontology, David Coakley and Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, Dr Emma Stokes.  One of the highlights of the meeting saw TCD Chancellor Mary Robinson and Nobel Poetry Laureate Seamus Heaney speak about Global Ageing and Ageing and the Poetic Spirit respectively which emphasised how we can bridge the gap between science and the humanities, and were each awarded the Willie Bermingham Medal by the Irish Gerontological Society and ALONE, an initiative that supports elderly people in the community.

Other major prizes awarded during the event included the President’s Medal for Best Platform Presentation which was awarded to a team from the HSE Older Person’s Programme which included Marguerite Clancy, Bridget McDaid and Professor Jim O’Brien, a visiting professor to TCD from University of Louisville, and Professor Desmond O’Neill.  The paper outlined data from an innovative national database on elder abuse referrals.  The President’s Medal for Best Poster Presentation went to Áine Ni Mhaoláin and a team including Professors Davis Coakley, JB Walsh and Brian Lawlor of the Mercer’s Institute for Research in Ageing, St James’s Hospital in a paper outlining determinants of frailty in Alzheimer’s disease.

The event was attended by over 1300 delegates and included interactive poster presentations, learning support, networking opportunities and research presentations with over 540 abstracts submitted.   Trinity College’s input featured presentations from the disciplines of Medical Gerontology, Old Age Psychiatry, Nursing, Social Policy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Psychology, Engineering and Law.  In addition there was strong representation from major Irish research groups with which TCD has a major involvement including The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) and Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL).