Transdisciplinary design research of Homebound Seniors
Authors: Wen Huei Chou, Chung-wen Hung, Ya-ling Ko
Abstract: According to the World Population Prospects report released by the United Nations, the proportion of individuals aged 65 and above is expected to increase from 9% in 2019 to 16% between 2019 and 2050. This trend indicates a rapid increase in the elderly population, which poses significant social development challenges. Maintaining the health of the elderly is essential for their continued ability to contribute to their families and communities. The complex effects of aging, such as physiological degradation, memory loss, and diminished physical coordination, can significantly impact daily life, making it crucial to find ways to delay aging and enhance the quality of life of the elderly. Achieving this goal requires transdisciplinary collaboration among professionals.This design research project involved a transdisciplinary team comprising geriatric occupational therapy, electrical engineering, and digital design professionals who proposed a design solution for solitary older adults. The proposed solution is a multi-player drumming interactive device designed for home use, integrating virtual and physical elements with low technological burden on users. This interactive device combines various elements, including music therapy, interactive games, upper limb exercises, cognitive training, and social connection, among others.Transdisciplinary collaboration among professionals is crucial in addressing complex issues that require diverse perspectives and expertise. The collaboration between professionals in geriatric occupational therapy, electrical engineering, and digital design can lead to more comprehensive and effective solutions. However, challenges associated with such collaborations include integrating diverse knowledge systems, aligning different work logics, and incorporating different problem-solving approaches. The potential benefits of transdisciplinary collaboration include more innovative problem-solving and consideration of the needs and preferences of aging populations.In this study, digital designers studied game-based learning theories for older adults, interface design requirements, and their habits of using online courses. They collaborated with geriatric occupational therapists to investigate the interactive user needs and drumming course planning for older adults, while electrical engineers integrated the virtual and real operating interface to reduce the elderly's learning burden. The system enabled older adults to play online games with other players at home through a simple drumming game using Unity and Bluetooth connection technology. This not only helped to prevent muscle atrophy but also facilitated remote communication with other players.Experimental testing of the proposed design showed its suitability for future applications in the field of elderly entertainment. The study examined the effects of drumming on the upper limb muscles, cognition, and emotions of older adults, as well as the ease of use of the overall system structure for the elderly. Despite communication barriers due to the use of technical language and jargon specific to each profession and the need for team members to develop a mutual understanding of each other's work logic and problem-solving approaches, transdisciplinary collaboration offers a promising approach to addressing complex issues in geriatric occupational therapy, electrical engineering, and digital design.
Keywords: Homebound Seniors, Senior Digital Game, Transdisciplinary Design, Geriatric Occupational Therapy
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