Don’t Send Me Your App Ideas!

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Video Transcript

Probably about every few months, at least, I get a message on LinkedIn or somehow via email with somebody asking me to give them advice about their app – their technology – that they’re building to disrupt dementia. This drives me crazy. I am so tired of talking to people about their apps. A lot of times, it comes from a good place, but unfortunately, building an app on your phone or another device to disrupt dementia, isn’t going to work. Here’s why…

Generally speaking, the types of apps I hear people run by me are reminder apps. So it’s like an app to help people living with dementia remember something like to take their medicine. Well, here’s the challenge – if they can’t remember where their smartphone is or how to use it, or charge the iPad, or what have you – they’re not even going to know that that app exists. Oftentimes they do not remember to even look at it to find that information.

So these apps that people often create, miss the real problem, which is that dementia is not just a memory problem. It’s not an isolated thing where someone’s memory is impaired and that’s kind of it, as we know, from talking to people living with dementia. Maybe living with a person, living with dementia, or caregiving dementia is just an umbrella term for a whole host of symptoms. And one of those is memory. So there are a lot of other pieces of dementia, especially depending on the cause of someone’s dementia, the type of someone’s dementia that makes it really challenging to develop an application that’s going to solve a thing. The other problem that sometimes I see is that someone will create some app or program and it will almost seem like, “Hey, that’s a great solution. Now the person living with dementia can be at home alone.” No, just setting up a bunch of cameras that detect motion and alert the caregiver if someone goes through an open door does not solve the inherent problem. It doesn’t prevent a person from something bad happening to that person wandering out of the house or what have you.

When I get these messages from people who say, “Hey, I want to disrupt dementia and I’ve got this app…” please pause and think, “Is this really solving a problem?” Or is it just focused on something that’s not really the crux of the issue? You know, because somebody’s memory is not really the thing that we need to fix necessarily.

Hope this was helpful! If you are talking to somebody who’s thinking about developing an app, please go ahead and send this over to them, just to get them thinking if this is really worth their time to build.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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