Every year, about 35 million Americans provide unpaid care to at least one adult over the age of 50 due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another neurocognitive conditions. More often than not, these family members-turned-caregivers aren’t prepared for the onset of these illnesses, including access to the right tools to manage it all.
When Matthew Golden‘s uncle was diagnosed with early onset dementia in his late 50s, he saw the physical and emotional toll it took on his family firsthand.
“That whole experience really opened up my eyes as to how many few options people have and how much this takes people by surprise,” Golden tells Hypepotamus.
“They have no way to really prepare and they don’t have enough tools to really improve the quality of life for the individual, but also for the family members and the care providers.”
As his uncle deteriorated, the ability to communicate with him became more and more difficult, despite efforts to help him. It wasn’t until a few years later, after connecting with neuroscientist Dr. Stuart Zola, that Golden saw a way to fix this gap in caregiving.
Dr. Zola and Golden co-founded MapHabit to commercialize the science behind mind mapping, the ability to take complex concepts and simplifying them into pictures and short text.
This would help people with memory impairment visualize their daily tasks with time prompts — increasing independence and reducing stress of caretakers at the same time.
“We help them get through their activities in an easier, more personalized way that they instantly will relate to. And it’s something that really anyone can do, plus you can relearn a lot of the concepts that you’d have lost,” says Golden.
The platform uses visual cues to show routines and help the affected family member move through their day, with step-by-step instructions to get dressed, prepare breakfast, medication reminders, and more.
For example, after a reminder to take a shower, the platform will walk you through how to do it — from taking off your clothes to turning the shower on and off.
Once a task is completed, caregivers get an update.
“All of these things that we just do autonomously without thinking, people with neurocognitive conditions tend to forget how or when to do things and it puts them at risk,” says Golden.
“MapHabit helps individuals stay more self-sufficient and helps families avoid having to leave work early or quit their jobs, which is often the case.”
Users can access the platform through an app on a tablet or smartphone. You can also print out graphics to display them around the home.
It also has Amazon Alexa functionality if the individual is more receptive to voice commands than images on the app.
MapHabit also helps doctors, caregivers, and family members stay connected to keep track of updates, wellness, and any gaps in caregiving. The platform’s machine learning capabilities also track irregular sleep patterns and safety concerns to identify potential issues and alert the caregiver.
The Atlanta startup currently operates on a SaaS model with adult living communities and home health companies with patients that want to age in place as their primary customers. They’re currently undergoing paid pilots with Holbrook Communities and Trinity Life.
The ATDC accelerate portfolio company will kick off fundraising at the beginning of 2020 with a seed round earmarked for sales and marketing. They’ve previously been funded by the Georgia Research Alliance as well as by a pre-seed round.
Golden shares that eventually they will roll out a B2C solution in mid-2020 and plan to expand MapHabit to serve individuals with other cognitive impairments and special needs, as well as those in need of physical therapy.