Dr Lee-Fay Low is a leading researcher in the field of dementia, and is passionate about ensuring that people with dementia enjoy the best quality of life possible. She is urrently Associate Professor in Ageing and Health at the Facility of Health Services, University of Sydney.
She co-led the largest controlled study of humour therapy in the world. The Sydney Multisite Study of LaughterBosses and ElderClowns (SMILE) project involved 36 residential aged care facilities and over 400 residents.
Dr Low is also an expert on non-pharmacological management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, and has published on models of dementia service delivery — these have been adopted by the NSW state government. She has also published on mental health service delivery and national data on mental health hospitalisations.
Dr Low leads the community care node at the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, UNSW, and has published original research, review and policy pieces on different models of community care. She is also a leading researcher internationally on dementia literacy (also known as dementia knowledge and beliefs), having conducted one of the most comprehensive population-based studies of dementia literacy in Australia, which has had international implications.
The results of this body of research influenced Alzheimer’s Australia’s Mind Your Mind risk-reduction program, and the message of Australian Dementia Awareness Week 2008.
Dr Low is a prominent researcher in the area of dementia in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups in Australia. She has been active in setting a research agenda, conducting, encouraging and facilitating research in the area, and in knowledge translation. She works closely with the Alzheimer’s Australia Cross-Cultural Network and multicultural organisations and represented the interests of CALD groups on the NSW Dementia Expert Advisory Panel that oversaw the development of the NSW Dementia Services Framework (2010–2015).
Her interest in dementia began close to home, as her grandmother had vascular dementia.