Project ideas for students, artists, and others

This page is part of the section Resources for volunteers. Use the menu option on top, or the right sidebar, to see the other pages in this section.

Often, persons who have some idea about dementia want to do a project on it as part of their student work, or as part of some creative project or small initiative. These people may not be deeply committed to the dementia cause, but they feel concerned enough to want to do a small, focused piece of work which they hope will be useful. This page discusses some such ideas, as well as a general approach for undertaking them.

Some possible projects:

Inter-generational activities (students mingling with persons with dementia)

Students can take up projects where they visit dementia facilities and interact with the persons and help them. This may take the form of joint painting or craft sessions, walks, plays and drama, picnics, reading and enacting books for them, and so on. This would typically be a number of visits. It can be an enjoyable, enriching and instructive experience for students and also an enjoyable time for persons with dementia.

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Student projects on use of technology to help someone with dementia

Students of design, engineering, etc., can undertake projects that can benefit families living with dementia. Examples of projects to explore/ prototype are:

  • Small devices to make it easier to perform daily tasks
  • Objects that are easier to hold and manipulate/ use by persons with dementia, such as easier to hold spoons, plates, easier to wear clothes, etc.
  • Apps and programs to spread awareness/ provide support/ create and maintain communities
  • Home adaptation ideas to make home safer and more empowering for persons with dementia, like grab rails, safety latches, etc.
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence to support persons in their daily tasks through appropriate feedback loops and algorithms to decide how to help.
  • Using technology to reduce the chances of wandering/ watch a person who may wander/ locate someone who has wandered. For example, sensors to detect if someone is getting up from bed or trying to open a door, etc.
  • Using technology (e.g., webcams and internet) to check up on the person with dementia and the paid help when the family caregivers are not at home.

(also see: Use Technology like the Internet and mobile for awareness/ support)

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Inclusion of a character with dementia in a creative work being made (a film, a book, etc.), or small videos created as part of a student project, depicting some aspect of living with dementia

This type of project requires a reasonable understanding of the impact of dementia on the person and family, so that the depiction in the creative work is believable. For example, the creative work may include a minor or major character with dementia. Such a project also requires a good understanding of the medical aspects that may affect the depiction, and how interactions occur.

Background information on dementia can be obtained from literature and websites, including interviews of families. However, given how complex the depiction can be, the creators should talk to others who understand and have seen dementia. They should validate their depiction with experts, with personal experiences with dementia, and with dementia advocates.

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Some additional general suggestions for such projects

When someone with limited time and relatively uninformed about the dementia undertakes a project connected with helping or depicting persons with dementia, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Ensure you have enough of a general understanding of dementia and care and more detailed knowledge of the area the project addresses
  • Be very careful of terminology and phrases used. Some phrases can be unacceptable/ misleading or directly stigmatizing. Look for guidelines, and run the project past experts to check for this. Don’t just use medical experts; ask advocates or caregiver supporters for feedback, too.
  • Sometimes a project can be counterproductive in its depiction because it is so focused on depicting one aspect it ends up conveying that there is no other complication/ aspect. This ends up being one-dimensional and hence, misleading. For example, a video depicting how persons with dementia may wander because they are actually going out of the house with good intentions may end up making wandering seem like a small problem. This is misleading because the fact is, wandering can result in the person never returning, or getting injured or dying during such wandering. Small notes can help keep the perspective broader. Such problems may also occur in fictional works, where the creative license taken may be assumed by audiences to be authentic medical information.
  • Ensure you have a guide or consultant who understands dementia and the relevant topics and has enough time to provide input and feedback. Don’t assume just reading books or talking to some persons with personal experiences is enough.

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Pages in this section:

Resources: If you want to help caregivers/ spread dementia awareness

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