WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 5, 2018)—AARP Services, Inc. (ASI) and UnitedHealthcare today announced the winning ideas from the Caregiving for Dementia Innovation Challenge. The Challenge launched in September to identify and create new solutions to support family caregivers of loved ones with early or mid-stage dementia. It received 254 contributions from participants in 34 countries.

The Challenge focused on the role of family caregivers who care for the more than 50 million people worldwide living with dementia, which includes vascular dementia, Lewy body, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. One in four [family] caregivers report that the person they care for suffers from a form of dementia, a journey that includes significant emotional and physical challenges.

OpenIDEO, which partners with organizations to crowdsource global solutions, drive collaboration and spark innovation around important societal issues, designed and managed the Challenge. Participants shared research and developed, prototyped and refined their ideas on OpenIDEO’s open innovation platform and during a series of three in-person events in Los Angeles, New York and Washington in November.

Winning ideas were selected based on four criteria: ability to improve the quality of caregiving for dementia; affordability; scalability; and ease of integration into caregivers’ daily lives. The judging committee was composed of health care professionals, physicians, researchers on aging and innovation leaders.

Embodied Labs’ solution, Embodying a Person with Alzheimer's in Virtual Reality (VR), is the winner in the Most Viable Solution category. The solution is a virtual reality experience that simulates the experience of having Alzheimer’s to help caregivers understand how the disease affects their loved ones. Caregivers gain empathy and insights into how an individual experiences the progressive loss of many different functions—not just memory, but also emotions, attention, communication, facial recognition, auditory processing and spatial awareness.

YouthCare is the winner in the Most Promising Idea category. Designed by UCLA students,

YouthCare trains student volunteers and partners them with persons with early-stage dementia. The program helps bridge the intergenerational gap and offers respite for caregivers while the student-senior pairs meet.

“As family caregivers become a larger and more significant part of our culture, it’s crucial that we work alongside them to create real solutions that will have lasting benefits on their day-to-day lives,” said Sanjay Khurana, vice president of Caregiving Products and Services at ASI. “We continue to be blown away by the breadth of innovative ideas and collaborative support displayed by this engaged community.”

The winners will receive cash awards and in-kind support to help them advance their solutions.

  • The Most Viable Solution winner, Embodying a Person with Alzheimer's in Virtual Reality (VR), will receive $25,000.
  • The Most Promising Solution winner, YouthCare, will receive $15,000.
  • Each will receive access to ASI’s iCare Research Panel to conduct a usability study and/or concept testing.

“Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging and isolating, yet a completely rewarding experience,” said Jim Murphy, vice president of Innovation at UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “This Challenge provided insights into caregivers’ needs and inspired the participants to step into caregivers’ shoes, resulting in many solutions that can deliver real value to caregivers.”

Visit openideo.com for more information.