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DFW Area Teens Launch App To Help Seniors With Alzheimer's And Dementia

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A catchy commercial jingle can root itself in your brain.

Decades later, it can also help you recall memories of years gone by.

"Usually when people think about the past they don't think about the smaller details that really define that era," said Rithvik Ganesh, a senior at Plano West High School.

He and Vedant Tapiavala, a senior at Dallas ISD's School for the Gifted and Talented, are tapping into that nostalgia from decades past to help seniors with Alzheimer's and dementia.

"There's a lot of benefits to reminiscing just for seniors in general, but especially those who suffer from Alzheimer's or dementia. It helps them form connections to the past, which helps their cognitive abilities and just helps them remember who they are and remember their identity," said Ganesh.

As part of a contest in 2019, the teens created the app, AlzBuddy, and cataloged sights and sounds from the 1940s to the 1980s.

Depending on their mood, users can choose to listen to slow, medium, or fast paced music, grouped by decade.

There are also historic speeches and popular advertisements.

"There's a lack of individualized activities for those who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia, and since we both knew how to make apps, we thought we could make an app to help these people," said Ganesh.

The pair has sought the help of nursing homes and continued to build on the app.

To help users exercise their memory, they've incorporated simple games and created galleries with pictures of celebrities, athletes, and historical figures from various eras.

"In one nursing home in Corpus Christi, they mentioned the seniors were singing along to the songs and discussing," said Tapiavala.

Since going live on app stores this summer, AlzBuddy has been downloaded across 12 different countries.

Both of its creators say it's reinforced their desire to pursue careers in medicine and biology, inspired by knowledge they can make a difference.

"I think it's really just awesome thinking about seniors in Sweden or New York City using this. I think that's amazing this is the impact that two high school students in DFW can make," said Tapiavala.

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