Dignity and Dementia by Christine Mullholand
Dementia is heart-breaking and scary and volatile. My sweet, little mom just passed November 30, 2018. She had dementia for 10 years. During her battle with the disease, my heart went out to her as she tried so hard to do things on her own. Sometimes, especially toward the end, she would look into my eyes with her innocent blue eyes and ask “Where’s my mind? I just can’t think.” I look back now at our journey together and my personal determination to apply my skills and resources to help the individuals with the disease and their family members.
What my colleagues and I created was a super secure, dedicated system to help my mom, and individuals in her situation, do things on their own—we wanted to support their dignity and their drive to stay autonomous. We also wanted to help the entire family support my mom and handle the many challenges facing all of us on this journey. The first prototype was a large touchscreen computer that my mom “could help us test.” She absolutely rose to the occasion.
Our goal was to have the system function more as a kiosk than a computer and have it be so simple to use that it required no training. We originally named the product “The Daily Do” because it had a highly informative calendar that would have pop-up reminders and helpful information such as how to find the doctor’s office with pictures of the office and any helpful landmarks. But it was more than a calendar – it captured memories through easy-to-create video clips that we would send back and forth to each.
My mom loved the system, and it probably allowed her to stay in her house several years longer than she would have without it. The disease finally took over not only her mind but her body as well. She is now a little angel. Our time together was special. She was part of the evolution of our product, and she sits on my shoulder as we work to add features and get the word out to others. We ended up calling the product simply “RememberStuff.”