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.