Why did you start with MindMate?
That’s a question we have been asked so many times in the past months. People are usually surprised that four young people find it enjoyable to sit together 24/7 and work on a project that involves endless research about dementia and lots of sleepless nights. First of all, working on MindMate has been the best decision all of us have made and it has been a very nice distraction from dissertation work.
But how did we all meet and how did we get to where we are now?
Rogelio did his masters degree at Strathclyde University and is from Mexico. His personal story was the inspiration for all of us. His grandfather had dementia and passed away last year. Rogelio’s family had to care for him at home and he helped us understand how hard it is to do that. He struggled with understanding the disease and felt powerless. How do you help someone who actually just wants to be independent and care for himself? It was a very hard time and Rogelio always wished to be able to make his grandpa’s life with dementia easier and better. Patrick is from Germany, but visited university in Vienna, Austria. As a civil servant he got real life insight into care jobs and learned a lot about dementia. He studied finance in Vienna and also at the University of Glasgow. He wished to combine his educational and practical experience to bring change to the health sector. Susanne also has strong ties to the health industry, as her father was a doctor and her mother a pharmacist. Both of her parents advised her not to study medicine, as she seems to be not the right type for this (after an internship at her dad’s doctor’s office). Susanne studied Business and Economics in Vienna, Milan and Glasgow and wants to empower with MindMate dementia patients as well as carers. What is more, she wants to raise awareness about dementia especially in a younger age group, as it regularly shocks her how little young persons know about dementia. My name is Gabriela, and I did my undergraduate studies in Vienna as well which is where I met Susanne and Patrick years ago. My dad is a nurse in an elderly home. I spend a lot of time there and really admire the work he does. I feel like I always knew about dementia and about how difficult it can be if you are affected but I think that it wasn’t before last year that I truly realized how urgent it was to find a way to help people. My best friend’s grandma had to move to an elderly home shortly before I moved to Scotland to study at the University of Glasgow. Her and her mother had cared for her grandma at home but it has always been a struggle. Seeing someone so close to me going through this truly opened my eyes.
How it all began…
I knew Susanne and Patrick for a while, but it took until we met Rogelio for the idea to come to life. Patrick and Rogelio developed a first version of our product during a competition at university. After the two won the competition, they were certain that they wanted to take the idea further, but a lot of work had to be done. Susanne and I joined the team and we worked day and night to make our product to something valuable and helpful. A lot has changed since March and we have developed a first version of our product and started testing it in July. We won competitions in the meantime and got the chance to speak at great events. Starting to work with The ALLIANCE and meeting Tommy was one of our biggest milestones so far. It made it possible for us to be close to people who can give us great advice and feedback on the product.
What is MindMate?
MindMate provides an App, which will help people living with dementia to be more independent and to improve their self-management skills. It’s like a friend that helps you to train your brain with fun games and provides you with tools like reminders. A friend that gives you advice about nutrition and physical exercises, and that provides you with information about dementia. A friend that wants to give you peace of mind, because you have all you need in one application. My mum likes the idea behind “MindMate” and supports me a lot, but she also always told me to focus on my dissertation and keep my eyes open for a job. I’m usually someone who does listen to her mother’s advice but in this case, all four of us agree: Now is the time to take a risk and work on something meaningful. And with a little time management, the dissertation also went well. We are very excited to see what comes next and hope that our app can make a change and help people who live with dementia as well as their families. If you want to find out more about us follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mindmateapp) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/MindMateApp).