Diana Anderson, MD, MArch, a neurology instructor, has received an Alzheimer’s Association Clinical Scientist Fellowship. The three-year, $155,000 award will support her research project, “Health Outcomes of Transitional Space Design for Older Adults with Dementia.”
The goal of Anderson’s study is to gain a better understanding of how older adults access and engage with their surrounding environment at home and in their community (spaces such as parks, outdoor seating, etc.) and how that engagement may impact social isolation, loneliness, mood, anxiety, cognitive function and behavior in older adults with and without Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias over time.
“For older adults who increasingly stay in their homes, these spaces may allow ways of engaging with the surrounding social landscape, promoting benefit and mitigating some of the effects of isolation,” explains Anderson, who also is a research fellow in geriatric neurology at the VA Boston Healthcare System.
Anderson is a board-certified healthcare architect and geriatrician. As a “dochitect,” (doctor + architect) she combines educational and professional experience in both medicine and architecture. She has worked on hospital design projects globally and is widely published in architectural and medical journals and books. She is a frequent speaker about the impacts of healthcare design on patient outcomes, staff satisfaction and related topics.
Anderson received her bachelor of science in architecture and master of architecture degrees from McGill University in Montreal before pursuing her MD from the University of Toronto. She completed a residency in internal medical at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Irving Medical Center and a clinical geriatric fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.
A past fellow at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, she continues to explore space design and ethics, especially in the context of nursing homes and institutional living for older adults. Anderson frequently speaks about the impacts of healthcare design on patient outcomes, care delivery and related topics. She also is co-founder of the Clinicians for Design group, an international network of leaders that seeks to inspire and accelerate the design of environments and systems.
The Alzheimer’s Association was founded in 1980 by a group of family caregivers and individuals who recognized the need for an organization that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s and advance research into the disease.