James Ashwell, 34, cared for his mum in his twenties when she developed dementia at the distressingly young age of 54.
Having experienced a journey into the unknown with his own mum’s dementia, James founded www.Unforgettable.org, backed by Alzheimer’s Society, to share advice and products with others facing the condition.
Dementia is the biggest health fear for over 55s in the UK and 225,000 people develop dementia each year; yet it can be very difficult to find products to help, with no dementia stores on the high streets and no recognisable online retail brands.
James said:P “Dementia can be incredibly cruel, particularly for families caring for their loved ones, but there is still life to be lived. Looking back at when we cared for our mum it was a journey into the unknown, we didn’t know what to expect or where to start, but gradually we discovered advice and products that made a big difference to her – and our – quality of life.
“Now, after three years of blood, sweat and tears from my fantastic team, we are using technology to help enlighten everyone else who’s facing dementia, both with what to expect along the way and the different support available.”
Unforgettable.org provides access to products and services that can help people with dementia and their carers, including:
• Advice from experts on aspects of dementia: like how to live well with the condition, why people with dementia wander and information on memory loss and confusion.
• There's a range of informative blogs on topics such as ‘The power of smell in dementia care’ and ‘Doll therapy and dementia: what you need to know.’
• Real life stories and diaries.
• Forums for people with dementia and their carers to connect and share experiences/advice.
Products featured on Unforgettable.org can help with a range of aspects including:
• Wandering: Wearable but invisible tracking for when a person with dementia goes missing.
• Time orientation: Clocks that help people know whether it is night or day.
• Oral hygiene: A simple protective device that makes cleaning a loved one’s teeth easier.
• Remote care: Home monitoring systems that send alerts if something is wrong.
James received initial funding from the charitable arm of Bridges Ventures and Unforgettable.org now has £2m funding, with the prospect of a further £5m.
This year James hired David Lethbridge, an expert in ecommerce and former Co-founder of Confetti - one of the first wave of consumer internet businesses in the UK - as CEO of Unforgettable.org.
David Lethbridge said: “Unforgettable.org can help people with dementia stay at home longer, reduce stress for carers, make dementia products more accessible and improve the lives of all those affected by dementia.
“We can’t sit back and ignore dementia; although there’s no cure yet, there’s still plenty of life to be lived. Unforgettable.org isn’t going to eliminate the condition, but it will transform the discovery, distribution and development of dementia products and services and provide a bit of a silver lining to those coping with the condition.”
David Lethbridge’s thoughts on why the dementia market could be being ignored:
• Lack of awareness by carers and suppliers that products and services exist that can help.
• Healthcare companies concentrate on care homes, yet two thirds of those with dementia are at home.
• People just know there is no cure so can be often very defeatist, rather than look for a solution.