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IGNITE start-up ForgetMeNot featured in The Irish Times

18 May 2023
ForgetMeNot founders Amy Boyden and Niamh Murray

The ForgetMeNot app makes reminiscence therapy more accessible for those with dementia and is customisable for each family’s needs

Niamh Murray and Amy Boyden both have personal experience of caring for a family member living with dementia. Amy’s stepmother had the condition and Niamh’s two grandmothers have also been affected by it.

Listening to familiar music, looking at old photographs and telling stories about the past provided moments of real comfort and happiness for their relatives and this inspired the co-founders to create ForgetMeNot, an app-based digital memory book that families can put together to help communicate with loved ones living with dementia.

Boyden’s stepmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a number of years ago and while Boyden says she had heard of it, experiencing its impact so close to home gave her a totally different perspective on the challenges of looking after someone with the condition. “Somehow you have to find a way around it and sharing stories and laughing was a way through for my family,” she says.

“It can be very difficult to get a conversation going with someone who has dementia. You don’t always know what to do or what to say and there is this feeling of helplessness,” Murray adds. “The app is designed to have a lasting, quality-of-life impact by providing a practical means of managing the symptoms through reminiscence therapy, which has well proven benefits such as reducing agitation and stimulating brain activity.

“My Nana Kitty is currently living with dementia and I spark conversations with her through photographs from her school days and this gives us an important connection in the moment.”

ForgetMeNot books are bespoke and made up of photos, music and voice recordings of particular significance to each person. The compilation could include sound clips from children or grandchildren and old photographs from past events and holidays. Favourite music from childhood can also be added and played through the app’s Spotify interface.

Murray and Boyden met at an Enactus event while studying law and business at University College Cork. Enactus is a group that encourages students and young leaders to become entrepreneurial in the interests of creating a better world for others. As soon as the co-founders graduated in 2021, they began work on the app.

“We actually set up the company in 2019 but the focus initially was on validating the idea and establishing relationships with the dementia community. The real development, which we outsourced, started later,” Murray says.

“We launched the Google Play version in September of last year and the iOS version will follow in the coming months. At the moment it’s just the two of us and we’re currently taking part in the Ignite incubator at UCC, but we will be expanding our marketing and technical teams as soon as possible.”

ForgetMeNot is a very early-stage business, and investment so far is about €45,000 between private equity and support from LEO Cork city.

The app already generates revenue on a small scale and the co-founders are now on a big sales drive while also working towards raising funding of around €100,000. Their focus is on getting people caring for family members with dementia, whether in a home setting or at a care facility, to sign up for the app at a cost of €9.99 per download.

“We are working with some of Ireland’s leading dementia organisations to promote the app, and as sales build in the Irish market, we plan on moving into the UK next,” Murray says.

“There are a number of dementia-based apps on the market, but they’re mainly focused on brain training and general memory-based activities. What sets us apart is that the ForgetMeNot app focuses on personalised reminiscence therapy based on each person’s own fond memories of their past.

“We’ve also included a family integration feature which means that at the click of the button the whole family can get involved in the reminiscence experience.”


Source: The Irish Times, Journalist: Olive Keogh


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