Research projects into facilitating residents to express sexuality and assessing the risk of developing dementia are among 17 new studies to share in more than $1 million of dementia research funding.

The grants announced last week are funded by Dementia Australia’s Research Foundation Project Grant, which has provided $17 million in funding and supported almost 280 research projects since it commenced in 2000.

Bond University assistant professor Dr Cindy Jones is among the 17 researchers to share in the funding.

Dr Jones will use her $75,000 grant to develop care environments that allow residents with dementia to express their sexual preferences, needs and desires.

“People living with dementia’s ability to express their sexuality is important to their physical and sexual health, quality of life and psychosocial wellbeing,” Dr Jones said.

“This project will help professionals in aged care to understand and honour the sexual preferences of older adults, particularly those living with dementia, who have often been overlooked in the past. Relevant care staff need to be more equipped to start these conversations and make progress in this area,” she said.

There is currently very limited research on this topic, Dr Jones said.

“The funding will strive towards a model of care to support people living with dementia in a neglected and stigmatised area, in long-term care settings that is both person-centred and consumer-directed.”

Fellow grant recipient Dr Michele Callisaya from Monash University and University of Tasmania will use her $75,000 grant to develop a cognitive-mobility stress test to detect mild cognitive impairment and risk of developing into dementia.

Dr Callisaya also received the Dementia Advocates’ Award, which a Dementia Australia Advocates group gives to the project most likely to yield important outcomes for people with dementia.

Dementia Australia chair of the Dementia Australia Research Foundation Professor Graeme Samuel said the grants provided researchers with the opportunity to make a difference in dementia.

“We are investing in the next generation of Australian researchers who will be among those tackling some of the biggest challenges in this field,” Professor Samuel said.

Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 1.1 million by 2058 so research into dementia is now more urgent than ever, he said.

Other grant recipients include:

  • Dr Monica for Flinders university for a pilot implementation trial looking at closing the evidence-practice gap in young onset dementia care
  • Dr Kim Kiely from the University of NSW for a pilot study into hearing-related neurocognitive impairment
  • Dr Connie Jackaman from Curtin University who is investigating the impact of acute muscle injury-induced inflammation on the brain in the elderly
  • Dr Lidia Engel from Deakin University for a project to estimate the value of informal care provided to people with dementia in Australia

Access the full list of dementia grant recipients here.

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  1. Looking forward to hearing how Dr. Jones develops the care environments around promoting healthy expression of sexual preferences in dementia care settings. Very important work! At StoriiCare, we are also looking for ways to improve and support person-centred care around this.

  2. Any funding and improvements in dementia care are always welcome I believe, as the population of Australians with the disease increases. Nursing home staff still get a bit ‘freaked out’ when residents with dementia show any sort of love and intimacy towards each other, but often the biggest detractors from sexuality are the families, and often the Enduring power of attorney believes that they have the right to the decision making for mum/dad/husband/wife in this area. Can be very difficult trying to ensure that the residents rights are respected in the area of sexuality, maybe some of this money could go into family end EPOA education.

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