PhD student & Research Assistant
Nicole completed her Bachelors of Laws and Bachelor of Science (Psychology) (Hons 1) at the Australian National University in 2016. She has since worked across several research centres and on various projects within Prof Kaarin Anstey’s research program, with a primary focus on risk factors associated with dementia and cognitive decline, and dementia risk reduction.
In 2019, Nicole received a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship and began her PhD at the University of New South Wales and NeuRA. Her research seeks to explore the relationship between social engagement in wellbeing and cognition in late life. She is also a research assistant on a project on ageing and decision-making funded by ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR).
There is increasing evidence to show that intergenerational interaction is beneficial for older adults and children alike. Higher levels of social engagement in older adults have been associated with better physical and cognitive function and wellbeing. Time spent with older adults has been linked to enhanced social and personal skills in children. However, familial intergenerational interaction is falling despite rising numbers of community-based older adults. In Australia alone approximately 15% of the total population are aged 65 and over, up from 5% in the 1920s and estimated to increase to 22% (8.8 million) in the next 30-40 years. Employment and economic factors drive greater geographical mobility of working age adults, resulting in increased separation from older family members with 40% of Australians aged 75-84 and 51% of those 85 and over living alone. Recent television series in Australia and the United Kingdom, have raised awareness and enthusiasm for intergenerational activities as an opportunity that could be realised within communities. However, while intergenerational programs are gaining in popularity globally, evidence for best practice in this area remains scarce.
In the INTERACTION trial led by Associate Professor Ruth Peters, we are collecting data to help us understand whether an intergenerational program (that is bringing older adults and pre-schoolers together to complete purposeful structured activities) helps to reduce frailty in the older adults. We are also measuring what happens to the children as we think it will help them with things like school readiness.
Our INTERACTION trial builds on our previous pilot work in the Intergenerational Integration Initiative (3i) project. In our previous work we answered three questions: We systematically reviewed the scientific evidence for community-based intergenerational programs and found that this was lacking. We asked the public and local community members what they thought about intergenerational programs and found that people are supportive and perceive such programs to be helpful. Finally, we ran a successful small pilot program in a Sydney community to test whether such programs were feasible. Our published work on the 3i project can be found here https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33567363/, and here https://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/10/10/374
Interested in volunteering?
The ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) is a unique collaboration bringing together academia, government and industry to address one of the major social challenges of the twenty first century. Based at the University of New South Wales with nodes at the Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, The University of Sydney and The University of Western Australia, CEPAR is producing world-class research on population ageing. CEPAR includes cross-disciplinary experts drawn from actuarial science, demography, economics, epidemiology, psychology and sociology. The Centre’s diverse research program which will deliver comprehensive outcomes with the potential to secure Australia’s future as a well-informed nation with world-best policy and practice for an ageing demographic.
Professor Anstey and Professor Mike Keane lead the CEPAR research stream concerned with decision making, expectations and cognitive ageing.
This research stream aims to:
For more information on CEPAR visit the centre website.
CEPAR has been funded primarily by the Australian Research Council, with generous support from the collaborating universities and partner organisations.
Systematic review of reviews were conducted to synthesize the available evidence for interventions for risk factors associated with cognitive declines and dementia. This research was used to inform WHO guideline development.
DR GAIL KENNING
Interdisciplinary Fellow Ageing Futures Institute
: 02 8936 0598
Project Manager (PATH Through Life Project), UNSW Canberra
: 1300 917 295 (PATH)
DR SOPHIE ANDREWS
Senior Research Fellow – DECRA, UNSW Psychology
: 9399 1076