September 20 to 26 is Dementia Action Week. This year’s theme is ‘A little support makes a big difference.’ Griffith University supports positive outcomes for those living with dementia and the practice of those treating dementia through our involvement in dementia research. Within the Menzies Health Institute, the Neuroscience, Ageing and Dementia research group works to improve the understanding and management of conditions affecting brain function and behaviour, including dementia.

In an illustration of the ideal for modern research, the group has brought together interdisciplinary academics, industry partners and end-users to create the first Australian collaborative dedicated to technologies within aged care services: the Australian Aged Care Technologies Collaborative. These technologies include the PARO Therapeutic Robot and the Social & Autonomous Robotic health Assistant (SARA); not only are these robots marvels of modern medicine, but the research produced by the Neuroscience, Ageing and Dementia research group is having real benefits for dementia support.

Professor Wendy Moyle, recognised in 2020 in the World’s 50 Most Renowned Women in Robotics, leads dementia research at Griffith. Professor Moyle, Dr Pu, and Dr Jones’ 2019 article provides a qualitative study into the PARO Therapeutic Robot. The research indicated that PARO is a promising intervention in increasing positive emotion in people living with dementia, along with the possible outcome of decreased pain for some people.

Griffith researchers also investigated the feasibility and efficacy of mindfulness-based programs for reducing stress and relieving the subjective burden on family caregivers. The study indicated improvements in the researched aspects of mental wellbeing for caregivers of people with dementia and provided the impetus for future clinical trials.

Griffith research has also studied the options for systems and structural support of dementia. Dr Lion participated in a 2021 research project investigating the costs and cost-effectiveness of a meeting centre support for people with dementia and their carers in Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom. The study’s outcomes illustrated cost-effective gains in dementia-specific quality of life measures from the meeting centre program.

Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute has a long and successful history of research contributions to supporting dementia, which you can read more about at Griffith Research Online.