Madeleine (Maddie) Nichols is a research assistant in the Aboriginal Health and Ageing Group under Dr Kylie Radford at Neuroscience Research Australia. She has previously completed a Bachelor of Science (Neuroscience & Psychology)(Hons Neuroscience) and worked as a research assistant under Dr Lucette Cysique. Maddie’s past research experience is in the area of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder and it’s effect on the physical brain and cognition. Her research interests lie in the neuroimaging of brain diseases and disorders and evaluating their neurocognitive correlates. As part of the Aboriginal Health and Ageing Program, Maddie assists in conducting research, research translation and community engagement.
“Healthy ageing is your mind staying young” – Koori Growing Old Well Study participant
Healthy Ageing calls for cognitively, physically and socially active lifestyles. The current project seeks to recognise existing community strengths but work to enhance participation and engagement, provide new resources specific to healthy ageing and develop an accessible platform for rolling out this intervention to diverse older people and communities, enabling widespread benefit. We will trial a cutting-edge approach to advance healthy ageing with implications for many Australians to benefit, particularly older Aboriginal people.
The project examines how to implement evidence based healthy ageing programs in urban and regional Aboriginal communities. Elders play a vital role in Indigenous communities, providing leadership, caring for family, and transmitting cultural knowledge and practices. However, the health, well-being and quality of life of the increasing numbers of older Indigenous people, are threatened by high rates of dementia, falls and depression. Novel culturally-safe approaches are needed to better engage and support Indigenous peoples in terms of healthy ageing. This research will develop and evaluate effective, culturally appropriate, and accessible strategies to promote healthy ageing in Aboriginal communities. It will also investigate whether and how resilience related to social and cultural cohesion can protect well-being in Indigenous communities.
The project, Sharing the Wisdom of Our Elders, comes in response to research highlighting the limited awareness of ageing and dementia across Aboriginal communities and requests from partnering communities (as part of the Koori Growing Old Well Study) for a strengths-focused and Aboriginal specific teaching resource to increase community knowledge of dementia prevention. This project acknowledges the central role that Elders have in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Communities, and the role that art has in representing their stories and traditions.
This project is funded by The Lowitja Institute (2018-2019), and focuses on the theme of Strong Elders and responds to the question: “what is good and healthy ageing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?” In the Koori Growing Old Well Study, participants were asked to described what they have learnt, throughout their lifetime and diverse experiences, is important for growing old well. This project will represent the responses of Elders in artwork and stories.