Research Highlights

The BAN-Dep Trial

Depressive symptoms are common among people living in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs), affecting up to 50% of residents. Despite being common, the presence of depressive symptoms can be difficult for care staff to detect and, when depressive symptoms are identified, treatment often does not incorporate potentially safe and effective non-pharmacological interventions.

There is good evidence that staff training can help staff to recognise depression and improve approaches to management. The BAN-Dep trial will use the beyondblue Professional Education to Aged Care (PEAC) package, which addresses issues related to depression, anxiety and suicide among older adults living in RACFs. BAN-Dep will also test an approach to treating depressive symptoms called Behavioural Activation (BA), which has shown promise in being effective and well accepted. In BA, RACF staff will work together with the resident to identify and treat depressive symptoms through behaviour change and activities.

The BAN-Dep trial is now recruiting RACFs to be a part of the study. If you work in an RACF and you are interested in more information, please contact:

Diana Velasquez Reyes
Phone: 8387 2429
Email: diana.velasquezreyes@unimelb.edu.au

or

Rhoda Lai
Phone: 8387 2202
Email: rhoda.lai@unimelb.edu.au

Ethnic differences in influences on physical activity participation in older adults: A qualitative study

The Melbourne University Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age (AUPOA) is looking for individuals to help us understand older adults’ views about physical activity and any barriers and enablers they are facing to participate in physical activity. This will provide us some insights on how the public health system could be better improved to encourage physical activity among older adults. Participants will only need to attend an interview (either face to face or via phone) to discuss their experiences and complete a short questionnaire to provide some background information. Participants can choose English, Mandarin or Cantonese to attend the interview.

People who answer ‘yes’ to the following may be eligible to join this study:

  • Aged 60 years or older
  • Australian-born or Chinese-born
  • Living in the community
  • Free of severe medical conditions that affect your ability or motivation to participate in physical activity

If you, or someone you know feel interested in participating, please contact Ms Angela Wan (research coordinator) via (03) 8387 2693 or email: angela.wan@unimelb.edu.au; or  Dr Emily You (project investigator) on (03) 8387 2612 or email: chuanmei.you@unimelb.edu.au .

Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Australians with Mild Cognitive Impairment or Subjective Cognitive Decline

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Australians with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) have been designed in order to inform older adults, health care providers, and policy makers about the current evidence on the health benefits of PA for older adults with MCI or SCD. Our guidelines are relevant to individuals aged 60 years and over, who have MCI or SCD.

The guidelines were developed according to a pre-specified protocol of consultation, drafting, and feedback amongst collaborators, international advisors and consumer groups.

The main questions addressed in the guidelines are: “What are the benefits of PA in older adults with MCI or SCD?” and “What is the most beneficial PA type, frequency, intensity, duration and setting?”

This project was funded by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres (DCRC) and led by Professor Nicola Lautenschlager at the Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age (AUPOA). The Guideline's authors are;

To access the Guidelines please click here.

Please click here to access the lay version of these Guidelines for consumers.

Anna Boyksen Fellowship - Institute for Advanced Study, Technical University of Munich

Professor Nicola Lautenschlager was awarded the Technical University of Munich Institute for Advanced Study (TUM/IAS) Anna Boyksen Fellowship in 2016. The Fellowship is awarded to outstanding scientists from outside TUM who intend to explore gender- and diversity-relevant problems with regard to the natural and engineering sciences together with a TUM research group.

As an Anna Boyksen Fellow, Professor Lautenschlager is the leader of the Modern Technology to Support Cognitive and Mental Health Focus Group at the TUM/IAS. The aim of the Focus Group is to contribute to the innovation of the scientific environment at TUM by advancing research knowledge on how modern technology, for example internet-based or communication technology, can best support cognitive and mental health. Please click here for more information. Dr Eleanor Curran and Dr Samantha Loi of the AUPOA are also involved with the Focus Group.

RAndomised trial to imProve the quality of lIfe of people with Dementia PLUS their carers (RAPID-PLUS Trial)

The Melbourne University Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age (AUPOA) is looking for volunteers to join the RAPID-plus trial, a study testing a new approach to treating depressive symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s Disease and their carers.

This six-month study aims to test a novel intervention designed to improve the mood and quality of life of people with memory concerns and those who care for them. The intervention is called ‘cognitive bias modification’ or CBM. CBM is an easy to use computer-based intervention that aims to break the vicious cycle of negative thoughts contributing to negative feelings.

People who answer 'yes' to the following may be eligible to join the RAPID-plus trial:

  • Have you been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease and have some depressive symptoms?
  • Are you a carer for someone with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease?
  • Are you fluent in written and spoken English?

If you, or someone you know would be interested in participating, please contact Rhoda Lai (Study Coordinator) via telephone: (03) 8387 2202 or email: rhoda.lai@unimelb.edu.au.

RAndomised trial to imProve the quality of lIfe of people with Dementia (RAPID Trial)

The University of Melbourne Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age (AUPOA) is looking for volunteers to join the RAPID trial, a two-week study testing a new approach to treating depressive symptoms in people with Alzheimer's Disease called 'cognitive bias modification' (CBM). CBM is an easy to use computer-based intervention that aims to break the viscous cycle of negative thoughts contributing to negative feelings. People who answer 'yes' to the following may be eligible to join the RAPID trial:

  • Have you been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease?
  • Have you been diagnosed with depression?
  • Are you fluent in written and spoken English?

If you, or someone you know would be interested in participating, please contact Rhoda Lai via telephone: (03) 8387 2202 or email: rhoda.lai@unimelb.edu.au.

DCRC Knowledge Transfer Project

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University collaborated to create two evidence briefs for the wider community. These evidence briefs identify risk factors for the development of cognitive impairment and dementia, provide more detailed information about ways in which we can make changes to our lifestyle to reduce these risks, and also include references to organisations and informative resources which may provide more useful and practical information. To view the evidence briefs, please click here.

The Stand Up & Go Study

Recent studies have shown that memory problems in older adults are associated with a number of potentially modifiable risk factors, such as low levels of physical activity.

The Stand Up & Go Study aims to investigate whether Investigate whether sedentary older adults can adhere successfully to a 12-week intervention combining a sitting time reduction program with a home-based physical activity program.

Recruitment for the Stand Up & Go study is now closed.

The INDIGO Study

Recent studies have shown that memory problems in older adults are associated with a number of risk factors that can be changed such as low levels of physical activity. The INDIGO study is investigating whether inactive older adults with memory complaints will benefit from taking part in an exercise program. INDIGO is also looking to see if having contact with a peer mentor and setting individual goals helps to maintain this exercise program. Professor Nicola Lautenschlager from the University of Melbourne, is leading this project alongside researchers from the National Ageing Research Institute, the University of Western Australia , and Exeter University in the United Kingdom. Recruitment for the INDIGO study is now closed.

Using robots to improve the care of people with younger-onset dementia

Dr Samantha Loi, a senior lecturer and researcher with the AUPOA, has been working with the Neuropsychiatry Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital on ways in which technology can enhance the care and quality of life for people with psychiatric conditions and dementia. One of the more novel ways in which this is being studied is through the use of healthcare robotics. Heath care robots have been successfully integrated into residential care facilities, and have been specifically programmed for use with people with dementia. The robots have a range of features including: voice and emotion recognition and verbal and non-verbal communication. The robots also have the ability to move, dance, play music and games. This project will investigate how these health care robots can be utilized in people with younger-onset dementia. For more information on this project please contact Dr Samantha Loi: samantha.loi@unimelb.edu.au, or click here.

The use of technology to improve care and quality of life in people with psychiatric conditions and dementia

Dr Samantha Loi, a senior lecturer and researcher with the AUPOA, is currently working on a collaborative project trialing a computer program which tracks and monitors challenging behaviours in psychiatric conditions. This trial involves investigating how the use of touchscreen technology (iPads and Samsung tablets) can assist in improving the quality of life of people living in residential care facilities. For more information about this studyplease contact Dr Samantha Loi: samantha.loi@unimelb.edu.au.

The Australian Imaging, Biomarker and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing (The AIBL Study)

Australian Imaging, Biomarker & Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing logo

Launched on November 14 2006, the AIBL study is a prospective longitudinal study of ageing comprised of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and healthy volunteers. The study will help researchers develop and confirm a set of diagnostic markers biomarkers and psychometrics that can be used to objectively monitor disease progression and to develop hypotheses about diet and lifestyle factors that might delay the onset of this disease. Successful completion of this work will enable the design and conduct of extensive cohort studies that may lead to clinically proven preventative strategies for Alzheimer's disease.

For more information on the AIBL study, please click here.

Management of Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia: My Story, My Life Reminiscence Project

The My Story, My Life Reminiscence project have been funded by the Commonwealth of Australia through the Dementia Community Support grant. This project will be conducted at the secure dementia unit (AC1) at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Park Campus. This pilot project aims to improve carer knowledge and use of reminiscence approaches and increase carer knowledge about the past experiences, preferences and interests of patients (all of whom have dementia) admitted to AC1. The project will involve:

  1. The use of themed reminiscence boxes with patients admitted to AC1. Themes will include: men's and women's interests, gardening, cooking, music, pets and cultural interests.
  2. The development and use of reminiscence resources, for example photo albums, DVDs, which are individually tailored for each patient admitted to AC1. A facilitated weekly weekend open group will be used to engage families and patients in the development of these resources at no cost to them. Support will be provided to assist families and residential aged care facilities in continuing to utilise the individually tailored resources following discharge from AC1.
  3. Education and support on the use of reminiscence resources in the care of patients will be provided.

All patients admitted to the unit during the project period will be invited to participate in this project together with their families. The impact of this project on the patients, their family carers, the AC1 staff and the professional carers engaged following the person's discharge from hospital will be evaluated.

For more information on this project, please contact Allisa Westphal: alissaw@unimelb.edu.au