Iceland as a Model for Human Aging

Adalsteinn Gudmundsson and Pâlmi V. Jonsson

Iceland may be viewed as a small but prototypic Western society, strategically located between mainland Europe and North America. Its ethnically and socioeconomically homogeneous population is served by an advanced healthcare system through a national health and social insurance. Interdisciplinary geriatric care is well established, and Iceland was one of the first countries to adapt, from the United States, the resident assessment instrument (RAI), which makes a cross-country comparison of long-term care feasible. Among a number of biotech companies recently established in Iceland are leading companies in the field of linking genetic variation to diseases. Historically, the population of Iceland has been exceptionally supportive and willing to participate in both transsectional and cohort studies. The Icelandic Heart Association launched a major population study on interactions between age, genes, and environment (AGES) in 2002 in collaboration with the U.S. National Institute of Aging (NIA). Ultimately, we may expect that a cutting edge aging research in Iceland will contribute to our understanding of how to maintain better health, independence, and active participation in later life, and how to best care for those who become frail and in need of formal care.

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