|Abstract:||Cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease impacts over 5 million Americans. Cases of the disease are steadily increasing and are projected to reach 14 million Americans by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease gradually attacks mental, behavioral, and physical abilities, and the damage caused is irreversible. The effects of cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s far outreach the physical symptoms of the disease. Countless family members, caregivers, medical professionals, and researchers devote their lives to understanding Alzheimer’s and attempting to improve the experience of those living with the disease.
This thesis explores dementia caused by Alzheimer’s, seeking to understand the physical, mental, and emotional complications that present in those individuals who are suffering from the disease. It identifies areas of opportunity for positive design influence to encourage prolonged completion of daily tasks to promote safe independent living.
This research concludes with the design of an adaptable dishwashing system to simplify and improve the everyday task of kitchen cleanup. So much of an individual’s everyday life revolves around the home. Home is a source of comfort and security and becomes increasingly important as individuals age. In addition to comfort and support, the home is a place of memories, familiarity, and routines, which are significant, meaningful, positive factors for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. While many of the aging population will ultimately transition to community and assisted care living environments or move in with family, it is preferable that people remain in their own homes for as long as safely possible.
The ultimate intent of this design proposal is to increase the amount of time one can live independently, it promotes the successful completion of an everyday activity in the home. It redesigns the processes of washing dishes and kitchen cleanup to be simpler and more intuitive, promoting a higher rate of successful task completion and building confidence in the user while destigmatizing the need for assistance.