Thursday, April 28, 2016

What's Daption all about?

If you're reading this, you probably know me. And if you know me, you likely know that my mom has Alzheimer's. She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's back in 2007, when she was in her early 60s, but she'd clearly had early stages for a while. 

We went through the amazing caregiver courses provided by the Canadian Alzheimer's Society, and they were very helpful. But in the end this awful disease is a one way trip. It's a long story, and I'll get into it with my therapist but not on my blog, but she stayed at home for as long as possible and then moved into the care facility in late 2010. 

At one point the care facility told us that with my mother's state we should buy her some adaptive clothes. We had no idea what those were, but they explained that they are clothes made to make dressing and being dressed easier for the person with Alzheimers. They pointed us in the direction of a local store and told us to pay a visit.

So I did this and had an awful experience. Simply put, the clothes were very poor. The fabrics used looked like they were the cheapest remnants that the store could buy. Terrible patterns and uncomfortable to the touch. And the quality of the construction wasn't any better, feeling like it might come apart in your hands at any time. Lastly, the service was disappointing. I think the people there meant to do well, but they provided very little help, and anyone that's gone through this knows already that this is an emotional process. Later, when I went back to the store another time, it was almost like they showed up when they felt like it, rather than ran it like a business to serve their customers.

There must be a better option online you'd think. There is a company in Canada that seems to be the market leader, but when I went there the products were no better and the website was very poor. It seemed be going for the lowest common denominator experience, which I understand and is probably good business for them, but it wasn't what I was looking for. It was all just such a terrible experience. 

So it was bad for me as a buyer and a loved one of someone with Alzheimer's. But the worst part of it is that the people who will be wearing these clothes, the people with Alzheimer's, are people who have taken care of themselves their entire lives and cared about what they looked like. My mom was a respected professional who always did her best to look the part. But now that these people can't stand up for themselves and dress themselves, now that they're dependent on others to dress, clothe and feed them, we put them in these awful outfits that they never would have been caught dead in.

To a certain degree it sounds like a small thing. I can hear people saying "Hey, who cares about what they wear when they've got Alzheimer's." Or a friend of mine who recently said "Old people don't care what they're dressed like." But I entirely disagree. These are the same people they always were the rest of their lives, deep down, and they care about many of the same things that they cared about the rest of their lives. If they wanted to be dressed well then, then I believe they want the same thing now.

So that's the idea. There's an unmet need in the world to create a better quality of adaptive clothing for people with Alzheimer's. We can give them back a bit of dignity. And we can provide a better buying experience for the people who care about them. And if we can create a decent business, then we can actually also do some good in the world, and give people just a little bit better life when they've already lost so much.

Feel free to provide feedback. Got suggestions? Think it's a terrible idea? Bring it on...

3 comments:

Eileen said...

Hey. Long time no talk. Came across this post in a strange way and thought ... I should put you in touch with Tanya at tanyaleehowe.com. She wrote a book called Supporting Parents with Alzheimer's and rode her bike across Canada for the cause. She might have something to say about this.

Rob Newell said...

It's an amazing idea and very inspiring. We need better creativity, thinking and experiences brought to life through businesses like this. It's where those things really count and can really make a difference. Very cool.

Stefan said...

Eileen - I'm very curious how you came across the post. Please feel free to introduce me to Tanya. I can be reached at stefan@daption.com.

Rob - Thanks for your support. It's incredibly motivating when I get feedback like that.