North Texas High School Students Design App for Alzheimer's Patients

The project wasn't a school assignment, but a self-assignment by two friends who wanted to make a difference

NBCUniversal, Inc.

There's an app for nearly everything, but some North Texas high school students noticed there wasn't one specifically geared to people with Alzheimer's and dementia.

That's why Vedant Tapiavala, a senior at Dallas ISD's School for the Talented and Gifted, and his friend Rithvik Ganesh, a senior at Plano West Senior High School designed AlzBuddy.

"It was my experience volunteering at a memory care nursing center here in Plano," Ganesh said. "It inspired us to make this app."

AlzBuddy uses images, songs, and games to help spark memories for people with dementia and Alzheimer's.

"These people might not even recognize people in their family at times. That takes away an emotional connection," Tapiavala said. "We need to rebuild that emotional connection, not only to their own family, but to help them reminisce."

AlzBuddy wasn't a class assignment, but a passion project between the friends. It launched in July and has been downloaded about 500 times in 15 countries so far.

"Really understanding how, for example, seniors at a nursing home in Corpus Christi are singing along to the songs in the app gives me a level of satisfaction that has only strengthened and reinforced my desire to be a doctor, as well as my desire to help others," Tapiavala said.

"To know that people are benefitting from something we worked to create, it means a lot to us," Ganesh said. "It means that we can make a difference."

AlzBuddy is a free app available for both iPhone and Android.

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