Monday, 23 May 2016

Nothing about me without me – dynamic workshop informs future of ageing research

Dr Julia Gilmartin is a NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow based in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (DEPM) in SPHPM. Earlier this month she was awarded a 'Best Presenter' award at the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research Australian Dementia Forum in Brisbane for her oral presentation, 'Optimising medication use to maintain or improve quality of life in aged care facility residents with and without dementia'.

Before she joined SPHPM she spent two years abroad at University College London (UCL) School of Pharmacy as a C W Maplethorpe Postdoctoral Fellow for Pharmaceutical Education and Research, investigating medicine administration systems in residential aged care facilities. Dr Gilmartin, with colleagues from UCL, recently published a report following a public engagement workshop held in London on older people’s priorities in health and social care research and practice.

Australia and many other countries are being transformed by population ageing, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) anticipating an 84 per cent leap in the number of Australians aged over 65 years by 2031. The findings from this workshop offer a valuable insight into the health concerns and priorities of older people, giving researchers the opportunity for more needs-based and patient-led future research.

“As the world’s population ages, concerns and issues related to older people will challenge health and social care professionals, policy makers and consumers. The workshop revealed that participants felt very strongly that older people should be at the heart of ageing research and actively involved in all stages of the research process,” Dr Gilmartin said.

“Since conducting the workshop the wider research team has embarked on research that addresses key topics raised at this event. For example, the needs of carers who support older people in their use of medicines, preferences for and management of different medicine formulations, and working with health professionals to raise awareness of these issues and how they may be more effectively addressed,” she said.

Other key themes that emerged in the workshop included that future research should address issues of loneliness and social isolation in older people as a priority and participants also raised concerns that older people face age discrimination in policy and practice in primary healthcare.

Dr Gilmartin is currently investigating the relationship between medication use and quality of life in aged care facility residents with and without dementia, and last year received an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowship (2016-2019) to carry out this project.

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