Center for Healthy Aging (CEHA)

CEHA is an interdisciplinary centre researching different aspects of  ageing processes. Copenhagen Centre for Health Research in the Humanities's (CoRe) work in CEHA focuses on the social, cultural and personal practices of health and aging, highlighting health politics and everyday life.

Photo: Aske Juul Lassen ©

A major objective is to (re)frame the humanistic position in aging research, and thus to explore the most promising ways to engage in interdisciplinary research collaborations.

In the coming years we will develop various kinds of community interventions in our four collaborative municipalities to support a healthy ageing process in them. We will do so together with the municipalities, older citizens and our colleagues from the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Public Health in CEHA’s theme 1.

We use our ethnological, anthropological and cultural historic expertise to research how old age is changing and how the ageing society can be organised. Our research form part of CEHA’s overall goal to provide new knowledge on how people can live healthy lives and enjoy a robust old age.

Research projects

Biomarkers of ageing: Use of internet ‘measurement of biological age’ website services

Project by Tiago Moreira, Aske Juul Lassen and Asger Aarup Hansen

In the past decade, an increasing variety of organisations have been established whose only objective is the provision of biological, personalised age measurement. Indeed, any cursory browse on the internet for ‘age’ would reveal that there are currently available a variety of tests to ascertain individuals’ ‘personalised age’, from simple questionnaires to those using bio-molecular techniques such as telomere length measuring.

This is an explorative study of the use of such online ‘personalised age’ measurement tools. Tiago, Aske and Asger aims at investigating the views of users of such services on the social and ethical impacts of personalised age measurement. The investigation conducted uses a mix of focus group interviews with users and non-users of such personalised age measurement tools and a digital mapping of Danes’ usage of internet measurements of biological age. The questions explored are; who uses these services, why do they use them and what the ethical implications of such use are.

Co-creation activities for elderly citizens in the Municipality of Ishøj

Funded by the Municipality of Ishøj with 80.000 DKK. The project is headed by postdoc Aske Juul Lassen and associate professor Astrid Jespersen. Research assistant, Cammilla Bundgård Toft, is daily coordinator of the project. Based at Copenhagen Centre for Health Research in the Humanities and Centre for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen.

This research project studies co-creation of activities for elderly people in the Municipality of Ishøj. The co-creation processes involve citizens, volunteers and municipal employees who work together to create sustainable life-quality promoting activities for elderly people.

Through qualitative studies of meeting-points between municipal and private actors the project explores how the cooperation takes place and brings new insights into the possibilities and barriers of collaboration. The project follows different collaborative activities in Ishøj and explores what types of roles, relations and activities arise in the co-creation processes. 

Implementation of welfare technologies for elderly citizens

Postdoc project by Sara Marie Ertner

Marie's research focuses on the design and implementation of welfare technologies for elderly people. Based on ethnographic and qualitative methods her research examines the intermingling of welfare technologies, elderly users, and everyday practices.

More specifically it explores visions, expectations, and ideas for welfare technological innovations in healthcare, and the social and material effects of these techno-political initiatives as they unfold in practice. Fieldwork is being conducted in the Center for Healthy Aging’s affiliated municipalities.

The role of intergenerational relationships in old-age transitions

Postdoc project by Kamilla Pernille Johansen Nørtoft

Using an ethnographic approach, Kamilla aims to explore how older people’s decisions, opportunities, and experiences of age in relation to transitions are linked to their intergenerational relationships. The main focus points are the transitions from working life to retirement, and from one home to another. Fieldwork is being conducted in the Center for Healthy Aging’s affiliated municipalities.

Local practices of active ageing

Project by Aske Juul Lassen

Aske Juul Lassen researches how the concept of ‘active ageing’ is translated into local policy, and how active ageing is practiced at activity centres, municipal settings, and NGOs.

He focuses on the ways that active ageing policies both intervene in and are formed by everyday practices, with a specific interest in the role of civil society in a changing welfare state. In collaboration with the Center for Healthy Aging’s affiliated municipalities, his research is used to develop healthy ageing interventions.

Locating Practices of Old Age

PhD project by Anders Møller

The aim of the project is to investigate, how old age was configured and transformed. This is studied within the specific practices in the setting of the old age home in the municipality of Copenhagen from 1891. The old age home is studied as a site, where old age and aging bodies are configured in different practices of regulations, knowledge productions and materializations.

This is done at three different points in time, tentatively described as establishment (1891-1910), modernization (1930-1940) and standardization (1950-1960). By describing and analyzing different homes for the elderly, as well as the changing facilities, interiors, staff, wordings, stuff is it the ambition of the project to qualify different practices and transformations of old age.

Empowering community health: a cultural analysis of how ‘health’ and ‘quality of life’ are enacted in a Danish municipality

PhD project by Amy Clotworthy

Amy’s research follows the work of municipal officials and external consultants as they collaborate to design and implement new health-promotion initiatives targeted at the elderly; in this context, she examines the social, organisational, and technological resources that various actors in a Danish municipality find meaningful.

Using ethnographic fieldwork and cultural analysis, she will describe how such resources relate to older people’s everyday practices of ‘the good life’ as well as how collective interactions constitute different forms of ‘community’.

Healthy aging’ among ethnic minorities in Denmark

PhD project by Nanna Hilm

Nanna’s research project investigates state-citizen encounters through municipal health-promotion initiatives targeted at ethnic minorities in Denmark. Using ethnographic research methods, she explores Turkish immigrants’ everyday practices of health, their perceptions of age, and their experiences within Danish society at large from a life course perspective.

Furthermore, she examines the ways in which meanings of ‘healthy aging’ and ‘the good life’ are created and enacted within the context of health-promotion initiatives, and she looks at how certain ideas of health and aging may intersect with various historical, cultural, and socio-political conditions. This focus will provide insights into the situated effects of public-health policies.