Promoting opportunity. Picking up from the Oct.29 blog post on the current Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge, the first phase of providing frameworks for the generation of design ideas started by getting community feedback on suggestions for areas for opportunity. Translation meaning, what are the real problems or challenges for people dealing with cognitive impairment that need to be improved?
Based on early feedback primarily from professional care givers and family members, the top suggestion identified, regarding these areas of opportunity or challenge, seems to be about maintaining safety. This is no surprise to anyone with elder care giving responsibilities, particularly where cognitive impairment is a major element.
One of the interesting comments that came from a professional care giver was about providing safe environments, allowing people to maintain their independence while at the same time leaving them some realistic sense of their limitations. Depending on the progression of cognitive impairment, achieving this balance is not an easy thing. From my memory of experiencing this first hand, it’s about a delicate dance, keeping dignity maintained in that balance.
I’m not sure what design ideas will address this safety issue. Technology has it’s limits. People have their limits. It’s not a single matter of automation of the functions of care giving. Devices alone can lose their intended effectiveness when in the sudden snap of human crisis.
Hopefully the Stanford Design Challenge submissions that will be evaluated and awarded will have as many human considerations at the centre of the design.