Flinders University researchers have received grants from the Dementia Australia Research Foundation to fund projects aimed at helping Australians with dementia address daily challenges. Three Flinders researchers were awarded a total of $225,000 in the 2022 Grants Program.
Dr Miia Rahja from the College of Medicine and Public Health has been awarded the Lucas’ Pawpaw Remedies Project Grant worth $75,000. Her team aims to create an evidence-based program to help care supporters engage meaningfully with loved ones with dementia who are living in residential aged care homes. Dr. Rahja explains that programs that teach loved ones how to communicate with people living with dementia and involve them in activities suitable to their abilities have not been available in residential care homes up to this point. The research will adapt an existing program designed for persons living in the community to the residential care setting and explore its potential benefits through surveys, interviews, and group discussions.
Dr Suzanne Dawson from the Caring Futures Institute has been awarded the Hazel Hawke Research Grant in Dementia Care worth $75,000 to study the effectiveness of weighted blankets as a safe sleep intervention for people with dementia experiencing sleep disturbances. Sleep disturbances are known to significantly impact the quality of life for people with dementia and cause stress for caregivers. Dr. Dawson aims to investigate whether weighted blankets could be a viable intervention to improve sleep outcomes and quality of life for people living with dementia.
Dr Kristie Stefanoska has been awarded $75,000 in Bondi2Barossa project grant funding to increase our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease development. Her research will focus on investigating how tau-induced brain cell death contributes to cognitive decline. Tau protein clumping is a known feature of Alzheimer’s disease and destroys the structure of neurons, leading to cognitive decline. Dr Stefanoska’s research aims to unravel the underlying mechanisms of tau-induced brain cell death and increase our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease development.
The grants from the Dementia Australia Research Foundation will enable Flinders University researchers to conduct important research aimed at improving the lives of people with dementia and addressing their daily tasks and challenges. The findings from these projects have the potential to inform future care practices in residential aged care homes, sleep interventions, and our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, ultimately benefiting Australians with dementia and their caregivers.