Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award


Exit Requirement

Undergraduate Honors Thesis/Project


Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Emily Vala-Haynes

Honors Program Director

Gavin Keulks


The goal of this project was a simple one: to create a mental stimulation focused activity program with the goal to delay the onset of dementia in the elderly. The incidence rate of new dementia cases in our country is increasing due to the large amount of people nearing the age of retirement. This means that more people are at risk of the disease than ever before. Dementia is becoming a major public health concern due to the intense effect it has on society, the patients, their family, and their friends. The mental health of our seniors is becoming just as important as their physical health. Dementia affects the brain in ways that are not yet fully understood. We do know that mental stimulation plays an important role in slowing the development of cognitive impairment diseases such as dementia, and can have as big of an affect as physical activity, a healthy diet, and genetics.1 Care facilities do their best to address all aspects of health for their residents. Some even go as far as to have specialists on hand to attend to specific needs such as a nutritionist, care physician, or an activities coordinator. Unfortunately not as much attention is given to the cognitive health aspect of health yet. Quality senior care has always been important, but as the average age of our population continues to increase, the need for a dementia prevention program increases as well. This project includes information and statistics on dementia, the effects it has on those afflicted, and on society as a whole. This information was used to create a dementia prevention program in a senior care facility with a collection of mental stimulation based activities such as jewelry making, painting, board games, and card making. By getting seniors involved in craft-based activities, their brain has to work differently in order to complete the task at hand. This type of stimulation is important to maintain mental health by having a positive effect on brain functioning.

ParkerEmily_2016_PPT.pptx (74 kB)
Powerpoint presentation