Flinders University researchers have secured significant funding from the Dementia Australia Research Foundation to address common challenges faced by people with dementia and their caregivers.
The funding will enable the development of evidence-based programs to improve communication and engagement with loved ones and investigate safe and effective sleep interventions for people with dementia.
Dr Miia Rahja, from the College of Medicine and Public Health, recipient of the Lucas’ Pawpaw Remedies Project Grant, worth $75,000, is leading a team to create a program that will help care supporters meaningfully engage with loved ones with dementia living in residential aged care homes.
“Programs that teach loved ones how to communicate with people living with dementia, to involve them in activities that are suitable to their abilities, or to understand behavioural changes that may occur when the person with dementia has difficulty expressing their needs or wants, have not been available in residential care up to this point,” Dr Rahja said.
Dr Suzanne Dawson, from the Caring Futures Institute, will lead a study examining the effectiveness of weighted blankets as a safe sleep intervention for people with dementia experiencing sleep disturbances thanks to the Hazel Hawke Research Grant in Dementia Care worth $75,000.
Dr Dawson’s project will explore the impact of sleep disturbances on the quality of life of people with dementia and the stress it causes caregivers. Sleep disturbances have been linked to increased admissions to care settings and higher healthcare costs.
In addition, Dr Kristie Stefanoska has been awarded $75,000 in Bondi2Barossa project grant funding to investigate how tau-induced brain cell death contributes to cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease, with the aim of developing drug therapies for cognitive impairment.
Shhe said cientists are seeking to unravel why the toxic clumping of a brain protein called tau is underlying in Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia Australia Research Foundation provides funding to support new and emerging dementia researchers. In 2022, $2.4 million in funding was allocated to support Project Grants, Post-doctoral Fellowships and Mid-Career Research Fellowships. With the help of this funding, Flinders University is committed to improving the lives of Australians living with dementia and their caregivers.