According to the Alzheimer's Association, an estimated 4.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease--by 2050, that number is expected to grow to between 11.3 million and 16 million. These companies are stepping up with innovative ways to treat Alzheimer's or help seniors improve their cognitive ability:
- Memory Lane Media was founded in Lone Tree, Colorado, in 2004, by the team responsible for the Baby Einstein line of children's learning videos, CDs and toys, including Jeff Mettais, 41; Bill Clark, 53; Julie Aigner-Clark, 38; Mark Burr, 41; and Brian Raffety, 48. Mettais says they wanted to help seniors and Alzheimer's patients with products like memory books and video vignettes of familiar images, such as people at weddings, set to well-known songs like "Auld Lang Syne." The first series, called Family, launched in late 2004 and is sold through their website and Amazon.com. The team hopes to create other themes and distribute them through bookstores, catalogs, caregivers, and medical and institutional establishments.
- TWI Publishing was founded in Van, Texas, in 2002 by Linda Mastaglio, 51, who was disheartened to learn that seniors with memory issues are often given children's coloring books to stimulate their minds. She created the ColorPad line of coloring books for seniors, with themes like "Life in the '50s" and "Life in the '60s." Sold in bulk to senior-care facilities and on her website, the coloring books help strengthen motor skills and stimulate thought through questions like, Who were your favorite movie stars in the 1950s?
- Posit Science Corp., founded in 2002 by Jeff Zimman, 48, and Dr. Michael M. Merzenich, 62, is developing training programs to help people stimulate their cognitive function. Posit Science is in the early stages of marketing these programs, including software for computers, interactive TV platforms and PDAs. Their goal: to get published in medical journals and launch their first products in late 2005, eventually distributing through retirement communities, learning centers and medical providers.