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Dementia-Friendly City Center Design Team: Jessica Ramirez, fourth-year architecture student; Rylie Davidson and Audrey Firth, third-year interior design students and Tori Hilger, fourth-year Interior Design Student. Not pictured: Jamie Slothower, third-year interior design student; and Andre Ferreira, fourth-year interior design student.

OSU DHM awarded NextFifty grant to explore innovative dementia programs

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Oklahoma State University Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising has been selected as a grant recipient by the NextFifty Initiative, a Denver-based nonprofit foundation dedicated to funding innovative, mission-driven initiatives that improve the lives of older adults and their caregivers. College of Human Sciences assistant professor Emily Roberts is the lead investigator on the project, which continues her work on scalable models for repurposing urban mall environments as mixed-use dementia-friendly city centers. 

NextFifty provided more than $111,000 over the next two years to support Roberts and her team as they continue exploring innovative solutions for dementia programs and services.

“We are so grateful for this support from the NextFifty Initiative which will allow several student designers and researchers to continue to explore opportunities for autonomy and improved quality of life for individuals living with dementia,” Roberts said. “In addition to gaining insight into the impact of dementia on families and our communities, students are also learning about numerous issues, including community revitalization, urban re-greening and building sustainability. We are also very excited to collaborate with the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative (OHAI) as Keith Kleszynksi, OHAI’s associate director, will lend his expertise in developing the next steps for the project.”

For the first time in history, the majority of our population will live beyond age 60. Yet, our communities, services and culture are not equipped for such dramatic increases in longevity. NextFifty Initiative was created to fund innovative projects that will help build stronger communities, so we may age better, be more engaged, more active and healthier as we advance in years.

“Concepts around aging are shifting. Oklahoma State University was selected as one of this cycle’s grant recipients because we believe this is a project that will help improve the lives and capacity of people over age 50,” said Margaret Franckhauser, president and CEO of NextFifty Initiative. “We offer our congratulations and look forward to a strong partnership that expands understanding of the needs of people in their second 50 years.”

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