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The UNSW Ageing Futures Institute will adopt a contextualised life-course perspective to healthy ageing, reducing inequities over the course of the ageing process. This will be done in terms of preventative measures as well as at the point of health care, through both policy and practical approaches and engaging policy makers and legislators.

We will address ‘how’ to enable optimal ageing by involving medicine, care, preventative health, technology, the built environment, transport, the arts, public policy, and co-design to deliver services and programs that are effective and appropriate.

Current Projects

2020 UNSW Ageing Futures Seed Funding Projects

Lead Investigator: Dr Soufiane Boufous | Co-lead investigators: Prof Rebecca Ivers, Dr Rona Macniven

The aim of this project is to investigate the cycling experience of older Australians and provide knowledge about aspects that support and promote cycling as a viable strategy to improve mobility and safety in older people. The project will identify aspects of the built environment and technology that support cycling in older people and inform the development of programs that will improve cycling safety and amenity in this age group. This initial project will allow the multidisciplinary team to fine-tune the methodology and identify issues that need to be addressed and further investigated in a future larger project.
Lead investigator: Dr Ying Xu | Co-lead investigator: Prof Lisa Keay

The aim of this project is to use fundus photography as a tool to identify those with greater risk of developing cognitive decline with a view to early intervention and risk reduction. We will investigate the relationship between retinopathies and changes in brain structure changes. A systematic review approach will be used to summarise current evidence on the epidemiology of co-existent eye diseases and dementia/cognitive impairment.
Lead Investigator: Dr Ruth Peters | Co-lead investigators: Dr Stephanie Ward, Dr Myra Hamilton, Dr George Kudrna

Intergenerational contact is a concept that is becoming increasingly significant in public and political discourse. The project will provide a novel, evidence-based, user-friendly toolkit to support the development of community-based intergenerational integration programs tailored directly to local Australian communities. Such programs are important as they may have positive impacts on physical, cognitive and psychological function across different generations and may help mitigate the fast-growing health, societal and fiscal impact projected due to Australia’s ageing demographic.
2019 UNSW Ageing Futures Seed Funding Projects

Lead Investigator: Dr Rona Macniven

The project proposes to bring together a multidisciplinary team of Ageing Futures Institute Investigators with a national NGO, the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF), to co-design, validate and conduct feasibility testing of measures that examine the impact of an IMF initiative, Deadly Running Australia (DRA; on overall health and wellbeing. DRA uses an Indigenous-led community model to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent chronic disease by increasing physical activity through an initial 12-week walking and running program. Successive Closing the Gap reports highlight the 10-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, much of which can be prevented through healthier lifestyles. Indigenous Australians are ageing at a much faster rate than the non-Indigenous population, with 3-fold higher multimorbidity rates, peaking from mid to late life, suggesting that improving health and wellbeing in the age group of 40 years and above is critical.
Lead investigator: Dr Melanie Anderson

Very little research has been conducted into what ageing well means to Aboriginal people and if mainstream notions of ‘healthy ageing’ resonate with them, nor what supports, services and environments they require to facilitate wellbeing as they age. The Dharriwaa Elders Group, Walgett is a unique organisational model that supports Elders to remain active and contribute leadership to community and cultural knowledge. This research will leverage and deepen existing partnerships between DEG and researchers at UNSW through Yuwaya Ngarra-li to engage with older Aboriginal people to hear their views and experiences. We will also seek the views of aged care service providers in Walgett. The project aims to: 1. Describe what ageing well means to Aboriginal people in Walgett and their priorities for aged care, including for members of the Stolen Generations 2. Examine barriers and enablers of ageing well in Walgett, including: existing health and social services; informal social support; housing and the built environment; telehealth; and the DEG. 3. Determine the acceptability and feasibility of proposed research methods for a larger study involving the co-design of aged care services and infrastructure in Walgett. For example, if housing audits would be acceptable to assess the suitability of existing housing stock to support ageing in place in Walgett.
Lead Investigator: Dr Louise Lavrencic

This project will address a need for tailored and effective programs addressing dementia risk factors in older Aboriginal Australians. Aboriginal “survivors” are reaching old age in increasing numbers and Aboriginal people are affected by dementia at rates 3-5 times higher than the mainstream population (Radford et al. 2015, Alz & Dem); yet this is not recognised in terms of support, prevention and service needs, despite the vital role older people play in Aboriginal communities. This project aims to develop a culturally-grounded mindfulness-based program (based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction group program) with older Aboriginal Australians to enhance coping and stress management, reduce psychological risk factors for dementia, and promote wellbeing.
Lead Investigator: Inclusive Healthy Ageing
Professor Rebecca Ivers is Head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW Sydney. She is also an honorary Professorial Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health and NHMRC Senior Research Fellow. Ivers leads a global research program focusing on the prevention and management of injury. Trained as an epidemiologist, her research interests focus on the prevention of injury, trauma care, and the research to policy transfer in both high and low income countries. She has a substantial program of research addressing the global burden of injury, with a particular focus on inequalities and inequities in injury in low income settings, and the prevention of injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Ivers has worked extensively with the World Health Organisation, contributing to multiple Good Practice Guides and global advocacy across unintentional injury.