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Dec 07 2012

"Stories Construct Designs:" NYIT Students Present Interdisciplinary Project for Senior Citizens

stories construct design project

Old Westbury, N.Y.  (December  7, 2012) ─ New York Institute of Technology students studying mental health counseling, occupational therapy, and interior design presented projects aimed at helping elderly residents stay in their homes as they confront the physical and mental challenges of aging.

In an interdisciplinary semester-long project, the students interviewed several local seniors who hope to “age in place,” or avoid moving out of their homes. Combining their specific areas of expertise, the students addressed a variety of issues, from accessibility to aesthetics, to meet the current and future needs of their senior clients.

“Older people want to stay in their homes as they age,” said Martha Siegel, chair of the department of interior design at NYIT’s School of Architecture and Design. “What are their needs going to be as they do that and what needs to happen to their homes?”

The students presented their proposals to modify the seniors' homes and add adaptive equipment, such as kitchen cabinets that can be raised and lowered, safety devices, and attractive layouts that allow for easy access and mobility.

Siegel and Tobi Abramson, Ph.D., director of the NYIT Center for Gerontology and Geriatrics, received a $6,000 grant from NYIT’s Office of Academic Affairs to help fund the project. Abramson has long supported the idea of educating NYIT students about the special needs of older adults. She helped arrange the connections with the local senior citizens who opened up their homes to the NYIT students and shared their personal stories. The result, said Lauren Heisler, an adjunct occupational therapy professor at the School of Health Professions, was a real-world experience that allowed the students to gain a greater understanding of seniors and of other disciplines.

Jessica Peskova, a second-year occupational therapy student, said that she learned that the students in the other disciplines had similar concerns about providing accessibility and client-centered approaches to safety and design.

“We learned we have so much in common,” Peskova said. “There’s a lot of overlap.”


About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, more than 92,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit

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