Building Longitudinal Research Database

14 February 2023

Running an organization that promotes active ageing, revamping a website that facilitates information dissemination, and establishing a longitudinal database on active ageing and society require strong support and continuous efforts.

With a vision to building up the first longitudinal database on active ageing and society, our Institute of Active Ageing (“IAA”) made a bold attempt with ZeShan’s support two years ago to turn our 10-year-old website into a knowledge hub, reaching more than 4,800 active aged members, the first of such kind in our home city. In early 2022, it was launched as a more up-to-date and user-friendly platform, providing useful information and convenient services to the third-agers and their family members, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, an efficient online communication and knowledge dissemination system also enables IAA to showcase innovative research and best practices in both local and international communities.

With a more powerful database, we are able to track older adults’ patterns of social participation, family functioning, and health and well-being more efficiently. In November 2022, the first unprecedented wave of the Panel Study of Active Ageing and Society (PAAS), a biannual longitudinal survey, was completed successfully with data collected from over 5,000 local residents aged 50 or above, a representative sample in Hong Kong. The second wave of data collection is expected in 2024. From an academic perspective, this longitudinal research database facilitates a more systematic and reliable mechanism for data collection, and thus more interdisciplinary research on active ageing, intergenerational relationships, physical and mental health in later life, and age-friendly society. It is indispensable to deep dive into more program and policy implications pertaining to the welfare of older adults in Hong Kong.

Since 2017, we have been journeying with ZeShan team to develop various lifelong learning and intergenerational programs. In our very first collaboration, a program of Infusion Active Ageing Education (“IAAE”) was developed to provide older adults with opportunities to learn with undergraduate students on university campus. It not only promotes intergenerational interaction and cultivates a more ageing-rich environment, but also strengthens students and teachers in ageing literacy. As program evaluation concluded, this IAAE model has created a non-threatening opportunity for young and older adults to interact in a safe and trust-enhancing learning environment, contributing to the growth of age-friendly practices by enriching university curricula with intergenerational interactions through a participatory and nonprescriptive approach.

Therefore, with additional support from ZeShan Foundation and Lee Kum Kee Family Foundation and in collaboration with Hong Kong Baptist University, we have further expanded this model into secondary schools in 2022, and developed the Inter-Generational Engagement in Secondary Schools Programme (i-GESS). This program aims to promote interaction and mutual learning between young and old generations, enhancing the quality of learning and promoting mutual understanding and respect. Young students have achieved significant improvements in ageing-related knowledge, attitudes, skills, and professional interests. Older people have learned practical and up-to-date knowledge, and progressed well in attitudes toward and communication with young people, sense of self-worth, and generativity. We will continue to apply the key components of the IAAE model to other settings, as an effort to help create an age-friendly environment.

In the long run, the successful implementation of these projects will facilitate stronger collaborations among local and international communities, generate more effective and creative programs, services and policies, and enhance the well-being of ageing populations as well as the development of an age-friendly society. In June 2022, our efforts were recognized by our university’s central management, with additional operational and financial support. Therefore, IAA is further developed and renamed as Research Centre for Gerontology and Family Studies, embracing a more comprehensive agenda of gerontology and family studies. We are confident that our centre will contribute diligently in the key areas of ageing, interdisciplinary education related to gerontology, and evidence-based practices for the promotion of active ageing.

Associate Professor
Research Centre for Gerontology and Family Studies
Department of Applied Social Sciences
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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