New Elder Care App Wins Fast Company's World Changing Ideas Award

GreyMatters, an iPad app designed to catalyze positive interactions with people affected by Alzheimer's disease or dementia, is the app category winner of Fast Company's 2018 World Changing Ideas Challenge.

Alzheimer's disease and dementia affect more than 5 million people in the United States alone, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The illness is anticipated to reach epidemic proportions; by 2050, this number will grow to 14 million people.

Jennifer Rozbruch, the Founder and CEO of GreyMatters, thought of the idea while she was attending New York City's School of Visual Arts for her masters in design. At the time, her mother was acting as primary caretaker for her grandmother who had dementia.

"My mom was able to connect with her in ways that other people couldn't through music from her youth, telling stories from her early life, and looking through photos with her," Rozbruch says. "I saw how much her mood and her manner changed when she was engaged in this way. She went from barely communicating and having no short-term memory to being able to sing the rest of a song's lyrics on her own."

Rozbruch decided to translate this experience into an app for her thesis project. After launching a minimum viable product, she enlisted the help of Dogtown Media, a prominent mobile healthcare app developer to scale the innovative technology for widespread usage. The end result was GreyMatters. In order to promote positive interactions, GreyMatters presents memories in a storybook format. The memories can range from music, pictures, video clips, and pop culture content from the past, but the goal remains the same: to establish a familiar context.

Familiarity can be difficult to establish with people afflicted with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. But doing so can alleviate a monumental amount of stress. GreyMatters allows caregivers to arrange memories in a way that brings structure to interactions. "People have been using photo albums and scrapbooks for a long time," Rozbruch says. "This streamlines everything, and makes it easier for people to tap into memories with their loved ones."

Since debuting, GreyMatters has been downloaded more than 8,000 times. Rozbruch plans to introduce a sharing feature for family members to collaborate in the app regardless of where they are located. Winning Fast Company's 2018 World Changing Ideas Award will not only bring more exposure to GreyMatters, but also more awareness to the problems that Alzheimer's disease and dementia pose.

Based in Venice Beach, California, Dogtown Media is a mobile app development firm that leverages disruptive design strategies and dynamic development to deliver unparalleled apps. Recently, the company was included on Inc. Magazine's exclusive 500 List of America's Fastest Growing Private Companies. The app technology studio has launched over 200 mobile apps and specializes in cutting-edge technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, mHealth, and the Internet of Things.

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