Our solution's stage of development:Growth
MemoryWell is a national network of 350 journalists telling life stories for those living with cognitive impairment to help them capture their lives and, down the road, improve their care. Our website hosts the stories and families can add to them, building timelines of their favorite anecdotes, music and movies.
Everyone has a story to tell, not everyone can tell it. We use professional journalists to tell the life stories of those living with cognitive impairment. Often, upon diagnosis, people try to tell their own stories, but they're usually too close. When receiving care, they'll fill out questionnaires, but who reads and comprehends dozens pages of handwritten data points? Our stories are not only keepsakes, they're legacies and calling cards.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
People have tried DIY products. StoryWorth, LifeBio, The History Project -- all have struggled to catch on. Truth is, most people hate scrapbooking and it's worse when the subject matter is personal like a spouse or a parent. How do you sum up a marriage in 5 lines? A legacy in 10? As journalists we told the stories of the rich and the powerful for an audience of millions. Now, we use those same skills to tell everyday life stories. The audience may only be 20 people, but the impact is much more profound. We give voice to the voiceless.
Our target outcomes:
Studies show that life story telling not only builds bonds between caregivers and those with cognitive impairment, but between families as well. Studies also show that life story telling reduces depression, improves the quality of life and can even help restore dexterity.
We are working on pilots with two of the largest assisted living chains to tell the life stories of those living with Alzheimer's and dementia. We're also in talks with AARP on a white label product for those just diagnosed. And we're working on our own research with academic partners.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
We are the only company in this space to use professional journalists to tell these stories. All other products are DIY versions that we would argue have proven ineffective. MemoryWell harnesses our national network of dozens of journalists. We are trained to write these kinds of stories and we’ve developed a proprietary process to do it quickly and efficiently. Families who struggle to define loved ones in a couple of lines in a questionnaire love being interviewed by a journalist. We can turn stories around in a matter of hours.
Why our solution is human-centered:
We make ourselves understood by telling our stories. But people with Alzheimer’s and dementia often can’t explain who they are. Too often long-term care communities are isolating places; staff only learns about a resident at their memorial services. Caregivers know little of their wards; residents and their families know nothing of their neighbors. Engagement is key to quality and length of life for those with dementia. Homes suffer from 55% annual staff turnover. It's hard to take someone to the bathroom five times a day with whom you can't relate.
How people will access our solution:
Our digestible and beautifully crafted life stories help caregivers understand and connect with residents, and become keepsakes for families. Our stories are printable so they can be placed in care logs, or laminated and hung up. Caregivers can also use that information to personalize activities. We’ve also developed a mobile-responsive website where each person’s page is anchored by their story and family members can add their favorite music, arts, videos and readings. That way, whomever’s sitting with them, whether it’s a paid caregiver or a grandchild, they have a whole tool box of things with which to engage that person.
Technology-Readiness Level:6-8 (Demonstration)
How we will sustain our team financially:
Thus far we have bootstrapped the company. We won a WeWork award in March for best launch startup in DC worth $130,000. We also completed a successful $77,000 kickstarter in July. We are also already generating small amounts of revenue—less than $5,000 a month. We are aiming to do a seed round of fundraising in the late fall so that we can begin to scale.
The factors limiting our success:
Assisted living communities have small margins and can't afford pricey innovative solutions. Which means, they're slow adopters of anything new. Some homes we work with don't even have wifi, which is why we developed analog versions of our stories.
How long we have been working on our solution:3 years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:We have already developed a pilot.
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:3-6 months
Our expected annual budget:
How much of our budget we've secured to date:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
The majority of funds in the Alzheimer's and dementia area are being spent on medical research. While important, given recent drug trail setbacks the odds of finding a cure in time to save, or even treat, the Baby Boomer generation is slim. Meanwhile, America is short 1.3 million caregivers and will be short nearly 2 million by 2020. So, just as America's need is the greatest, care will be declining. Not enough attention is being paid to caregiving. We are one of the few companies looking to innovate in that space and we need all the help we can get!
Our current partners:
We are already in half a dozen homes in the Lutheran Life chain in Illinois and Florida and the RUI chain in Virginia. We are also partnering with LifePosts, Caring Village and Women Against Alzheimer's. And we're piloting with Median Senior Living, BrightView and the Good Samaritan Society.