Research focus on Ageing Well

June 2015 Vol 15 (3)

Nursing-led research projects are being recommended for a share of the $14.6 million Ageing Well research challenge launched earlier this year.

Ageing Well is one of the 11 National Science Challenges announced by the Government last year that aim to draw scientists and researchers together from across different institutions and disciplines to work collaboratively to meet goals.

In the case of Ageing Well, the mission is to add ‘life to years’ for all older New Zealanders and the research strands include enabling independence, ensuring a meaningful life, recognising older people’s contributions, reducing disability and developing ‘age-friendly’ environments.

Dr Michal Boyd, a gerontology nurse practitioner and researcher at The University of Auckland, is the leader of one of the 10 research projects that have been recommended for a share of the $8.5 million funding allocated for ‘core’ projects for the challenge. Leading another of the recommended projects is Professor Merryn Gott, also from The University of Auckland School of Nursing.

Boyd is excited by the potential of the Ageing Well challenge to make an impact on those caring for older people and says there is an emphasis on a consumer-focused research addressing issues that New Zealanders face as they age. “There is also a focus on research that can be translated into practice really quickly, which I think is good thing.”

“From my point of view as a clinician, I think the direction they are going in will see benefits sooner to older people on the ground,” says Boyd. She says one very positive experience from her involvement in the challenge to date has been the chance to meet and network with scientists doing a wide range of research into ageing, from those working with rats in laboratories to those doing population-based studies in health care systems.

The other recommended core projects in the challenge are led by researchers from a range of disciplines, including neuroscientists, psychologists, geriatricians, general practitioners and sociologists.

Boyd’s research proposal is looking into whether individualised interventions can improve end-of-life care for people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Gott’s proposal is looking at social isolation and loneliness amongst older people across cultures and the implications for ageing-in-place and service delivery.

Ageing Well National Science Challenge

VISION: To add life to years for all older New Zealanders by ‘harnessing science’ to sustain health and wellbeing into the later years of life.

FUNDING: An initial budget of $14.6 million to support research up until June 2019 and then a second allocation, expected to be at a similar level, for the following five years.

THEMES:

  • Maintaining brain health
  • Dealing with physical frailty
  • Enhancing the role of older people in society.

Find out more at www.otago.ac.nz/ageing-well/index.html

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