This 19-Year-Old Created an App to Help His Family Handle His Grandmother's Dementia
"Knowing that you're not alone makes a big difference."
Dementia can be a devastating disease, and the illness is often difficult not only on the person living with it, but on their family members as well. According to the Alzheimer's Association, in the U.S., 16.3 million family members and friends of people with dementia provided 18.5 billion hours of unpaid care to their loved ones in 2018. And that's how 19-year-old Logan Wells of Lexington, Massachusetts, came up with the idea for CareZare, an app that would make it easier for those with loved with dementia to take care of them.
Around six years ago, Well's 79-year-old grandmother, Nannie, began showing symptoms of the disease. "The effect that it's had on my grandmother has been terrible, but it was also really hard on my parents and other family members," he told Best Life.
As her illness progressed and she needed more round-the-clock care, they got more paid caregivers involved, which is when things got especially complicated.
"It became really hard to stay on the same page, because we had to have multiple group chats," he said.
That's when the then-15-year-old Wells came up with the idea for CareZare.
His parents were "completely on board," he said. "I learned the coding and my dad helped me create the prototype, and then we contacted a father-son duo to help us with the development," he recalled.
The free app, which is available for both Apple and Android users, allows people to create a profile centered around the individual with dementia and invite other people to join and receive notifications.
You can schedule events—like a visit or a birthday party—and confirm that you've completed a task, like giving Nannie her medication.
You can also create a "heads up" message that everyone will receive, like that it's a little slippery or especially cold outside.
And you can log in the person's mood so that the next caregiver can come prepared if they're feeling cranky or really disoriented. There's also a place to record how you spent your time together.
Basically, the app's goal is to make it as easy as possible for all caregivers involved to keep track of the person they love.
Wells is currently attending a local community college, where he's learning how to run a business. At present, he said the app is being used by over 600 families, and he's hoping it will grow.
"Our users have been great about giving us feedback so we can tailor the app to their needs," he said. "Caregiving is such an important issue for them because it's so personal for them, just as it is for me."
Wells' biggest advice for the loved ones of people with dementia is to not go through the process of taking care of them all alone.
"Find support groups and friends and family, whether in person or online," he said. "Knowing that you're not alone makes a big difference."
For more on taking care of someone with dementia, read The Touching Story Behind the Video of a Man with Dementia Remembering his Own Song.
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