Dementia affects nearly 50 million people worldwide  and with less than a 50% diagnosis rate , the real number of individuals with dementia is actually much higher. Forms of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s – which accounts for 60-70% of the diagnoses .
This Challenge will focus on a critical aspect of this widespread health condition – the role of family caregivers. One in four caregivers report that the person they are caring for suffers from dementia. Alzheimer’s alone accounts for over 18 billion hours per year of unpaid caregiving. Out-of-pocket expenses for these caregivers total approximately $10.7K, nearly twice the average caregiver out-of-pocket spending .
Caregiving for a loved one with dementia is a journey. In the beginning, there may be gradual changes in behaviors and attitudes that become more perceptible as dementia progresses. The act of caregiving intensifies with the onset of complex behaviors and loss of memory and may entail managing a wide spectrum of behaviors, such as aggression, agitation, depression, and confusion. Sundowning or late day confusion is common in those with mid-stage to advanced dementia. These behaviors create a significant role reversal for caregivers and care-recipients, with a physically younger but cognitively older person taking care of a physically older but cognitively younger person.
In taking care of their loved ones, many caregivers encounter significant emotional and physical challenges including burn out, loneliness, and isolation. Alarmingly, research conducted at Stanford found that 40% of Alzheimer's caregivers die from stress-related disorders before the person with dementia they are caring for dies .
While caregiving can be challenging, it can also be incredibly rewarding. There’s an enormous sense of purpose, responsibility, and fulfillment when family members take on the role of caregiver in a loved one’s life. Providing support in a time of need affords family members quality time with their loved one. It may also provide treasured moments of clarity and joy.
There is a huge opportunity to support caregivers in navigating the dementia caregiving journey. A clear understanding of the condition, knowledge of what to expect in the journey ahead, and access to qualified resources are essential in mapping out the best possible care. This Challenge is calling for new solutions that increase awareness, aid in decision-making, and lend support to those caring for people with dementia.
WHO WE’RE DESIGNING FOR
In this Challenge, our end user is the unpaid family caregiver taking care of a loved one with early or mid-stage dementia. The intended result of this Challenge is to source ideas that might:
- Alleviate the burden of caregiving for dementia by helping to manage complex behaviors of the care-recipient
- Empower caregivers by providing tools to monitor their loved one's condition and stimulate their sensory, cognitive, and social activities
- Strengthen the bond between caregiver and care-recipient by leveraging the role reversal that is common in the progression of dementia
- Enable emotional and physical resilience of dementia caregivers by instilling a sense of purpose in their work
- Improve the ability of the caregiver to provide better quality of in-home care to the care-recipient / loved one
- Combat social isolation of caregivers
THE OPENIDEO CHALLENGE PROCESS
Together with AARP Services, Inc. (ASI) and UnitedHealthcare, we’re launching this Challenge to engage people from around the world in a collaborative effort to explore and develop new ideas around tools and services that support caregivers of people with dementia.
During the Research Phase, we invite you to share your stories, reflections, interviews, and findings related to caregiving for dementia. Next, during our Ideas Phase – we invite you to create and collaborate around solutions that support caregivers of those with dementia.
With help from the Challenge sponsors, a shortlist of submitted ideas will move into our Refinement Phase. The shortlist represents ideas that are most active and aligned with the Challenge Evaluation Criteria (coming soon). However, all ideas are encouraged to continue progressing throughout the Refinement Phase.
After an iterative Refinement Phase, the Top Ideas from the Challenge will be announced – a set of solutions that represent innovation and impact in the topic area.
GOALS FOR THE CHALLENGE
During this Challenge, we’re aiming to engage and draw inspiration from people of all backgrounds and shine a spotlight on viable solutions that are already in the market or show a strong potential for success in the market. Furthermore, ideas in the Challenge will be encouraged to prototype, test, and improve with the help of the OpenIDEO community. ASI and UnitedHealthcare will then provide the finalist(s) with mentorship, assisting them with go-to-market development of their solution.
Depending on readiness of the solution, ASI will also consider exploring certain top solutions as part of its Family Caregiving initiative.
We hope to engage a range of stakeholders and participants, including technologists, designers, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, researchers, neurologists, academics and other experts to help us with this challenge. We’ll rely heavily on design thinking strategies – interviewing, storytelling and gaining new perspectives – to bring the issue to life, and will foster multidisciplinary collaboration, encouraging the prototyping, testing and refining of ideas to create powerful new solutions.
- Our primary goal is to equip caregivers with tools to address the unique challenges that unfold as dementia progresses.
- A strong secondary goal is to increase awareness of the challenges in caregiving for dementia and activate the market to address these challenges.
Ideally, this Challenge will yield tools, services, and technology that are actionable and innovative. We’re excited to see new solutions that:
- Keep people at the center. Empowering caregivers to feel supported and equipped as they care for loved ones with dementia is at the heart of this Challenge. The impact of your idea will be measured by how much it improves or maintains the quality of caregiving for dementia.
- Are affordable. The solutions developed should be accessible. As you build out your idea, consider who will bear the cost. In a lifetime, anyone may experience dementia or care for someone with dementia – new solutions should reflect that.
- Naturally integrate. Fresh ideas for dementia caregiving should seamlessly fit into our lifestyles. What are we already doing that could be re-engineered or leveraged in a different way? How might current behaviors or existing technology create powerful new solutions?
- Consider scale. Starting locally can be really powerful, but how might your idea become a solution for a large number of people? As you form your idea, try to be mindful of the different structures that exist in the caregiving for dementia space and how your idea might adapt.
As the Challenge moves toward the Refinement and Top Ideas Phases, the focus will narrow on ideas that reflect the four criteria.
PRIZES FOR TOP IDEAS
With the announcement of Top Ideas, there will be recognition of ideas that best represent the categories below:
Most Viable. A solution with the greatest market viability. This may mean the idea is ready to go to market, either as-is or with targeted enhancements. The idea recognized as Most Viable will receive $25,000.
Most Promising. This recognition is all about potential for impact. This idea might not be ready for the market but it shows promise in significantly impacting the quality of care for adults with early to mid-stage dementia, and improving the experience and support for caregivers. The idea recognized as Most Promising will receive $15,000.
As always, everyone in the Challenge is encouraged to take ideas forward and implement them within their own communities. OpenIDEO Challenges strive to be a place where good ideas gain momentum – both from the community and from sponsors and partners. Check out our Guiding Principles for tips on how our community collaborates.
Curious to know more about what it means to post an idea on OpenIDEO? Check our our Terms and Conditions before posting in the Research phase!
AARP Services Inc., founded in 1999, is a wholly owned taxable subsidiary of AARP. AARP Services manages the provider relationships for and performs quality control oversight of the wide range of products and services that carry the AARP name and are made available by independent providers as benefits to AARP’s millions of members. The provider offers currently span health products, financial products, travel and leisure products, and life event services. Specific products include Medicare supplemental insurance; credit cards, auto and home, mobile home and motorcycle insurance, life insurance and annuities; member discounts on rental cars, cruises, vacation packages and lodging; special offers on technology and gifts; and pharmacy services. AARP Services also engages in new product development activities for AARP and provides certain consulting services to outside companies.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. Globally, UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.