There are currently 46.8 million people with dementia worldwide and this number is expected to reach 131.5 million by 2050. In the US, 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia and by 2050, this number is projected to grow to 13.8 million. In response to increasingly significant issues facing individuals with dementia and their caregivers, the Alliance on Aging in the College of Human Sciences at Oklahoma State University have collaborated with community members and industry partners to develop innovative initiatives with the help of Human Sciences students.
The Dementia Friendly City Center Student Design Workshop
The Dementia Friendly City Center (DFCC) is envisioned to be a care center to encourage a focus on wellness over illness for individuals living with dementia. A student 3-day design workshop was held in the College of Human Sciences, with five student teams developing and presenting their designs focusing on the mission of the DFCC: an environment designed to promote a comfortable and productive model for everyday life. Students focused on creating conceptual work that incorporated four design tenants: sustainability, a therapeutic environment, universal design and supporting personal autonomy.
Convergence Community Workshop
The OSU student work led to grant funding for a follow-up community visioning workshop developed through the College of Human Sciences and sponsored by the ASID Foundation, bringing together stakeholders from around Oklahoma to discuss the opportunities for re-thinking dementia care in our state, nationally and internationally. Community members from memory care and medical fields, architects, landscape architects, state health employees, social workers, and family caregivers attended the all-day Convergence workshop, as well as OSU students, faculty and alumni. An additional 2-year grant funded by the non-profit Next50 Initiative will allow for further student design team work to create a fully developed site plans and images to share with other entities interested in the DFCC concept.
CATcare- Cognitive Assistive Technology for Dementia Home Care
Other recently funded grant work at the College of Human Sciences includes a partnership with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT) for a 3-year NIH R-15 grant. The objective of this project is to develop an innovative cognitive assistive technology, called CATcare, a wearable device designed to enable the individual with dementia more independence and situational awareness in the home setting. This technology will be designed to enhance quality of living with less reliance on the caregiver, instilling more confidence and autonomy. Several undergraduate and graduate research assistants will be involved over the 3-year period, and grant funding will support the development of a human factors lab in the Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising in the College of Human Sciences for the CATcare testing. This lab will include a mock-up home environment which will also serve to support other environmental design and assistive technology research focused on an aging population. Find more information on the Alliance on Aging at https://humansciences.okstate.edu/dhm/alliance-on-aging/convergence-initiative-history.html or contact Dr. Emily Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.