Faculty of Medicine

TV personalities Samuel and Grandpa become co-researchers

Samuel Massie and grandfather Arne Ulvolden from the TV2 series "Samuel and grandfather" become co-researchers in the BetterAge research project, led by University of Bergen professor Bettina Husebø.

Bestefar, Samuel og Bettina
Arne Ulvolden, Samuel Massie and Bettina Husebø held the talk "The Art of Living" in Grieghallen, during the Bergen International Festival 2019. Photo: Kim E. Andreassen
Kim E. Andreassen

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"It's kind of fun that I, who was a loser at school, suddenly have something to add to research," said Samuel Massie, who is known as the program creator of the TV2 series Samuel and grandfather.

In the TV program, Massie and grandfather Arne Ulvolden (83) have turned their attitudes to the elderly and getting old. Together they have traveled around the world and tried everything from motorcycles with sidecars across the Andes to parachuting in Australia.

Now the duo is co-researchers in the BetterAge research project, which is an active aging research project, led by professor Bettina Husebø, at the Centre for Elderly and Nursing Home Medicine, at the University of Bergen (UiB).

– It is very important to hear what both the elderly and younger people have to say when it comes to aging. Samuel and Grandpa are a unique couple, both in that they are men and that it is a young person who takes care of his grandfather. They are role models for all of us, says Husebø.

– We have a great collaboration with Bettina. She knows a lot about this field, we hope to contribute with our experience, says Massie.

Future societal problem

Today, there are 45 million people with dementia worldwide. The number is expected to rise to 140 million by 2050, which means that 600 million people will have dementia over the next 40 years. Combined with diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, aging represents a significant societal challenge for the future.

– In the future, we will not have enough resources to expand our nursing home capacity. We do not have as many human resources to care for as many elderly people and people with dementia, as will be needed in the future. That's why we have to find new ways to solve this, says Husebø.

In the BetterAge project, researchers are focusing on improving the lives of the elderly by becoming more independent and being able to live longer at home. This will be done through research on both new technology and new ways of utilizing human resources. Husebø hopes the project will become one of the Research Council's Centers for Research-Driven Innovation (SFI).

Living laboratory

As part of the BetterAge project, around 50 elderly people will move into very modern apartments, Helgetun in Bergen. Here they will live in scenic surroundings, with many physical and social activities. Here they get good food, they train and there should be many volunteer contributors, including lectures by Samuel and grandfather.

– We will use the residents at Helgetun as a living laboratory and see what happens to them, compared to those living in ordinary nursing homes with a lot of medication, automation and bureaucracy, says Husebø.

– Important to feel like a human being

Samuel and grandfather have great faith in the project, which is funded by the GC Rieber Fondene.

– The most important thing is that the elderly make them feel like a human being. We can see that from my grandfather. If he sits in a chair and no one sees and hears, he just falls asleep. When he comes out into the world and gets to move, dance and so on, the spark of life comes on and life gets good, says Massie.

Grandpa himself also has great faith in the project and the change in attitude that the project brings. Instead of separating the elderly, they should rather be seen as a resource.

– The young-old relationship is a win-win situation. One thing is that young people can help the elderly, but the elderly can also help the young, for example with schoolwork. One must remember that it is not so easy to be young today either, says grandfather Arne Ulvolden.

Kunsten å leve, samtale i Grieghallen.
Bettina Husebø, Samuel Massie and the active grandfather Arne Ulvolden during the talk "The Art of Living", during the Bergen International Festival. Now they will be researching together to improve the care of the elderly in the future. Photo: Kim E. Andreassen.