SNL Echo Silver – Too Close to Home for Many

SNL recently aired a parody of the Amazon Echo “poking fun” at the elderly population. There was a good deal of criticism voiced about the piece. On a serious note – It’s a shame that Amazon doesn’t see the huge potential of an Echo like device in assisting the elderly. There is a great deal of research describing the benefits of music for those suffering from dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Amazon with its ability to produce fantastic products and its vast library of music content is in a unique position to introduce a revolutionary product.

RecallCue is not sitting back and waiting for Amazon- we are hard at work on our own music features for our connected day clock.

Robots as a tool for combating loneliness

I came across this article today and it got me thinking about the use of technology in general and robots in particular for improving quality of life for dementia and MCI patients.

 

On the one hand the problem is real. Given the realities of life, children can’t be full time caregivers and connected health devices have a real place. On the other hand the thought of replacing human interaction and companionship with a robot is alarming. We seem to be reducing loneliness down to a chemical reaction. I can see a day soon where we will be prescribing a drug to counter the loneliness brain function. Problem solved!? Do robots have their place? Sure, personally I think replacing the human floor washer with an iRobot is a great use. Replacing a child or caregiver – not so much. At RecallCue we are looking to create devices that facilitate human interaction with the elderly – not replace it.

Should we be disrupting dementia?

Based on my own experience both caring for a family member with dementia as well as being a co-founder in a related startup, I found this to be an extremely important article. I would not advocate stopping to try and disrupt- rather 1) learn from the mistakes made and keep improving, 2) listen to the advice of the experts, 3) as with any product, talk to and understand the customer base. (Build, Measure, Learn)

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tech-developers-stop-trying-disrupt-dementiaits-rachael-wonderlin-ms?trk=v-feed&trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BqTHzFlOgKEopR86EnAvS%2BQ%3D%3D

RecallCue – Digital Memory Aid

It’s with mixed emotions that I announce the release of RecallCue, a digital memory aid for families caring for a loved one with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) or early stage dementia.

As with any product release I have been involved with over my last 10+ years as a Product/Project Manager, there is great satisfaction and excitement in seeing a concept come to fruition. The countless hours of design, architecture and functionality discussions; the back and forth with potential users; the last minute go-no-go decision. All this leading up to “the big moment” when everything is in place and ready to launch. In the past, with other products, I would participate in post launch celebrations and high fives to the team. But this time is different. This time the product idea came to me out of personal need.

For the last 4 years our extended family has been caring for my mother-law who suffers from dementia. I witness every day the challenges my mother-in-law and the family face. On the one hand even the most basic things such as knowing what day of the week or time of day it is can’t be taken for granted. On the other hand the reality of life and geography don’t allow for everyone to have the level of communication and involvement they would like. In Product Management we call this identifying the “pain point” of the customer. Unfortunately the pain that family members experience caring for someone with dementia is very real and all to obvious. The statistics on the growth rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s are staggering. It is estimated that every 4 seconds someone new is diagnosed.

I am not naive in thinking that RecallCue will cure or even slow down the effects of dementia (see recent post by Rachael Wonderlin on this topic http://bit.ly/2rDZ1dX). Like many technologies I truly believe that when used with the right “customer” it can provide real benefits.

1)     It’s true, a person with late stage Dementia will not benefit from a Day Clock (a popular aid for knowing time of day and day of week), but someone who is in early stages or pre-diagnose can (and based on my research does) benefit greatly from this simple tool.

2)     The comfort and accessibility given to the family members, especially those who may live out of town is immeasurable. No, “Bubby” may not remember the beautiful picture of her great-grandson that was posted early this morning, but I happened to be there when it was and saw the smile on her face and joy it brought to her at that moment.

So, unlike past product releases- this one is bittersweet at best. I am satisfied knowing that I and my business partner, Ephraim Tabackman, may be able to help bring a smile – even for a moment – to someone else’s grandparent but at the same time I am frightened by the number of people this product may help.