Nigerian-Irish Teens Develop App to Help Dementia Patients During Lockdown

Three Nigerian-Irish teens, Joy Njekwe, 17, Rachael Akano, 15, and Margaret Akano, 17, are being recognized for the creation of the Memory Haven app. The tech trio designed the app with the help of their mentor, Evelyn Nomayo, and with it, the teens seek to address some of the main challenges attributed to dementia: memory loss, speech impairment, and a reduced capacity for recognition.

After realizing she was often the only female and person of color in her doctoral classes, Nomayo founded the program Phase Innovate to provide mentorship to girls and people of color with the goal of bringing them into the fields of technology and business. 

The teens, who live in Drogheda –– a city on the eastern coast of Ireland –– were inspired by their mentor’s personal experience with dementia caregiving. Nomayo’s mother developed the disease several years ago before passing away earlier this year. 

The app was developed over a 12-week period as part of the Technovation challenge. It features a tool to remind caregivers and patients about appointments and medication. Users can also scroll through a photo gallery that tags important people in their lives, and play memory-building games. In case of an emergency, the app can also reach out to emergency contacts on behalf of the patient. 

Within the context of a pandemic, this app can provide much-needed support to dementia patients and their caregivers by keeping the patients busy and active, and in touch with their loved ones. 

The trio has earned several awards for their work including first place in the Technovation Girls competition at the 2020 Technovation World Summit. Their competition included 1,500 other contenders from 62 countries around the world. 

They received their award in a virtual ceremony and told BBC they hope to continue to “help as many people as possible.” Their goal for the app is to have it “go global and reach millions of people who are affected by dementia.” 

Photo: Getty Images

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