Research into ageing in Australia got a major boost this week with the launch of two separate initiatives in Canberra and Adelaide, both with a focus on positive ageing.
Australian Catholic University (ACU) launched its Institute for Health and Ageing (IHA) to develop, implement and evaluate interventions that improve the quality of life of seniors, their family and carers.
The centre is being led by Professor Marita McCabe, a leading international expert in health and ageing, backed by a multidisciplinary team of experts.
A whole-of-person multidisciplinary approach to healthy ageing would be pursued at the centre, she said. “We don’t just focus on the physical or the mental aspects of health, because they are interlinked and one feeds into the other,” said Professor McCabe.
The IHA had a wide range of specialists in areas such as mental health, physical activity, nutrition, musculoskeletal conditions, chronic illness, social connection, the built environment and the social determinants of healthy ageing.
“We strongly believe that interventions and services for older Australians will be more effective if we take this multidisciplinary approach to our work. This will result in better outcomes for older people – who are at the centre of everything we do,” Professor McCabe said.
The IHA was keen to link in with partners in government and industry partners, as well as establishing research links within the academic sector.
Meanwhile, in South Australia, healthy ageing was also on the research agenda, with a new Chair of Restorative Care being appointed at Flinders University, in a position jointly established with aged care provider ACH Group.
Professor Susan Gordon, who has been appointed to the position, said she was passionate about changing the health system to optimise participation and quality of life for seniors.
A more responsive health system with greater emphasis on early identification of age related changes was essential, backed up by person centred, inter-professional practice, said Professor Gordon, who has over 30 years of clinical and research experience.
Professor Gordon highlighted the need to conduct high quality research to identify the best use of aged screening to optimise outcomes for seniors and help inform healthy policies.
“For example in Australia there is Medicare funding to assess age related changes in people over 75 years of age. If this age limit was changed to 60 there would be the opportunity to address early deficits which can be reversed rather than waiting until they result in a hospital admission,” she said.
Dr Mike Rungie, CEO of ACH Group, said Professor Gordon would be in a prime position to be able to connect the aged care system, the health system and research to find new approaches to keeping people healthier and productive as they lived longer lives.
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