28 June 2018

Millions for Research in the Health and Quality of Life of Senior Citizens


More Danes must maintain a high quality of life and vitality throughout life. This is the vision and starting point of the cross-disciplinary research conducted by the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen. The centre has just received funding DKK 78 million from Nordea-fonden. The research-based knowledge produced here will through collaboration with civil society and municipalities be translated into practice of benefit to senior citizens.

Meeting the new demands and needs of the ageing population requires new knowledge, new visions and changes of practice. Research into human ageing shows that our physical fitness is vital to our health and life expectancy. Both our biology, lifestyle and social conditions affect the ageing process.

Development of Guidelines

Nordea-fonden supports the work conducted at the Center for Healthy Aging with DKK 78 million over the next five years. The research programme consists of three tracks, and the new grant enables the centre to further develop important research results, for example concerning cognitive disability and how we can protect the brain. In the future the centre will, among other things, study how physical activity affects the brain and, together with municipalities and health professionals, develop a set of guidelines for initiatives and measures intended to help more senior citizens live a healthy, active life and continue to have the strength to form new social relations. The focuses of the centre over the next five years will contribute to research into human ageing at both cell, individual and societal levels.

‘I would like to congratulate the Center for Healthy Aging on the large grant from Nordea-fonden. As we live and stay healthy for longer, it is incredibly important that science takes an interest in the ageing process. It is vital if the healthcare system is going to be able to give senior citizens the best advice and treatment and thus support healthy ageing’, says Minister for Health Ellen Trane Nørby.

Easy Transitions from Work to Retirement

The cross-disciplinary research conducted at the Center for Healthy Aging has previously focussed on how many people find the transition from an active working life to retirement a challenge, but can also be seen as an opportunity to establish new, healthier habits.

From 2019 to 2023 the researchers will look more closely at how the transition to retirement can become more flexible and a positive experience for more senior citizens – an active everyday life with physical exercise, voluntary work and other new activities. In close cooperation with municipalities and pension funds the researchers will develop and test models for more flexible retirement from the labour market and easier transitions to life as a pensioner.

‘Since 2009 the Center for Healthy Aging has created a series of ambitious research programmes that have contributed with new knowledge on the ageing processes and on how more people can maintain healthy and active lifestyles with a high quality of life throughout life. They have also contributed to the training of researchers and other professionals based on a cross-disciplinary approach to human ageing. The aim is to benefit both citizens and society’, says Dean Ulla Wewer, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

Solid Platform Linking Science and Society

Over the past 10 years the Center for Healthy Aging has attracted international attention through a series of significant research results. The centre has also managed to establish strong partnerships within the health sector at both municipal and national levels. In order to increase knowledge-sharing and ensure solid implementation of new knowledge the centre will seek to further strengthen its collaboration with interest organisations, municipalities, patients’ associations etc. The goal is to ensure that research-based knowledge is translated into initiatives of benefit to citizens and thus to society as fast as possible.

’Society’s demographic development with many more senior citizens in the future stresses the importance of this effort. Both for the individual citizen and for society as a whole. Therefore, we are happy to be able to help ensure that the centre continues to provide new knowledge and, together with other social actors, translate this knowledge into new activities and initiatives. We hope to contribute to giving the Danes more good years without disease and increased quality of life’, says Director of Nordea-fonden Henrik Lehmann Andersen.


Center for Healthy Aging was founded in 2009 with a grant from Nordea-fonden of DKK 150 million for the first five years. In 2013 the grant was extended for another five years with DKK 150 million.  

The Center for Healthy Aging is headed by Professor and Director Lene Juel Rasmussen. The research conducted at the centre is divided into three themes:

Damage and repair
The impact of physical activity on muscles and brain. Understanding the importance of the body’s immune system and level of inflammation and how this affects age-related changes to musculature and brain. Develop knowledge for drawing up guidelines supporting healthy ageing. 

Transitions from working life to retirement
The research focusses on models for flexible retirement and the consequences of pensioning on social relations, health and well-being and is conducted in close cooperation with municipalities, the healthcare system, pension funds and also studies the role of close social relations.

Individualised health
The use of unique, individual medical data for studying the individual’s response to specific diets and dietary supplements, participation in training programme and changed sleep patterns. Study how biological age is connected to chronological age and how lifestyle changes can be maintained.