Genes and life-style factors in BELFAST nonagenarians: Nature, Nurture and Narrative

Jennifer Nicola M Rea, Ashley Carvalho, Susan E McNerlan, H Denis Alexander, Irene Maeve Rea

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
210 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding how to 'Age Longer and Age Well' is a priority for people personally, for populations globally and for government policy. Nonagenarians are the oldest members of our societies and survivors of their generation. Approximately 10 % of nonagenarians reach 90 years and beyond in good condition and seem to have a combination of both age-span and health-span. But what are the factors which help people reach their ninetieth birthday and beyond in good condition? Are they genetics, as in 'nature', or do they depend on 'nurture' and are related to environment, or are both factors inextricably intertwined within the concept of behavioural genetics? Nonagenarians have rich life experiences that can teach us much about ageing well; they are reservoirs of genetic, life-style and behavioural information which can help dissect out how to live not only longer but better. Personal family history and narrative are powerful tools that help to determine familial traits, beliefs and social behaviours and when used in parallel with new biotechnology methods inform and elaborate causality. Here we present themes and insights from personal narrative enquiry from nonagenarian participants from the Belfast Elderly Longitudinal Free-living Ageing STudy (BELFAST) about factors they consider important for good quality ageing and relate these insights to the emerging genetics and life-style evidence associated with healthy longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-97
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Age Factors
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genotype
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Longevity
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Northern Ireland
  • Phenotype
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Support
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Genes and life-style factors in BELFAST nonagenarians: Nature, Nurture and Narrative'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this