PhD 'Examining the therapeutic effect of gardens and gardening activities for older adults residing in the community and in aged-care facilities', 2013.
Grad Cert Research Methods (Soc Sci), UQ
BPsySc (Hons), UQ
Theresa is a Psychologist and an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow with the School of Medicine and School of Psychology, at The University of Queensland. Her fellowship research focuses on the social, economic, and cultural impacts and complex consequences of dementia and driving. Theresa is working with a team of researchers from the Schools of Psychology, Medicine, and Rehabilitation Sciences at UQ, and Nursing at QUT, translating and implementing the CarFreeMe intervention to improve driving cessation outcomes for people with dementia. The program of research will deliver a comprehensive support and education-based driving cessation intervention to older people with dementia, and support to their family members, and to GPs – who identify and monitor driving issues with their patients.
My research activities primarily focus on the complex issues around dementia and driving. The complex issues around dementia and driving have emotional, social, legal and ethical ramifications for individuals and present serious public health risks. Drivers with dementia have an increased risk of crashes two to eight times that of older adults without cognitive decline. Dementia has a profound effect on capacity for driving, although a diagnosis of dementia does not automatically preclude a person from safe driving, at some stage they will have to stop. Some drivers avoid their responsibility to stop driving even when their licence is revoked, for emotional, logistical and mobility reasons. Stopping driving impacts health and quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers, and poses considerable challenges to health professionals who monitor driving issues. General Practitioners are tasked with reporting patients with dementia that they believe are a risk to public safety. This puts them in an uncomfortable ethical position. It is a complex area for everyone involved. Evidence shows that without intensive emotional and practical support to plan for and cease driving, people with dementia are at risk of isolation, depression, unsafe driving, injury and loss of life.
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