DementiAid is a youth-led, NJ based initiative founded by Bill Zhang, Anjay Ambegaonkar, and Sachin Naraparaju in May 2019. The organization is dedicated to engaging youth in community service and seeking funding opportunities and resources to benefit seniors, caregivers, and their support systems. They have been volunteering at their local living facility Millenium Memory Care in Holmdel, NJ since 2017. In the midst of playing music, serving food, directing games, they couldn't help but notice the loneliness, isolation, and unsuitable living conditions for those seniors. After speaking with the director, caregivers, patients, and their loved ones, they decided to do something.
They began with contacting their respective schools (Holmdel High School, Colts Neck High School, Manalapan High School), and promoting DementiAid through daily announcements, school websites, and day to day conversations. With an increasingly aging population, the need for community service and youth involvement in senior services become ever more so prevalent. In the summer of 2019, the music service project Music4Memories was founded with the premise of improving the quality of life of patients living with Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia. Gathering students from their respective high schools, the founders organized musical performances at their local living facility every weekend. Seeing the joy and awe of the seniors' faces, and the relief of the caregivers' faces who had a few moments to rest from their enormous daily workload, even for a few minutes, was immensely gratifying.
Eventually, local news outlets had picked up on DementiAid which thereby furthered the outreach of the organization. Within a few months, the organization had expanded from 3 to nearly 30 volunteers, from over 10 high schools in NJ and NY. Through outreach efforts, they had partnered with the Brooklyn Homes Foundation for Aged Men and Smiles for Seniors Initiative who had provided immense help and direction. Communication with the local community reaffirmed the cause of their work but also showed the high schoolers how much more work needed to be done, how many more people could be impacted. To combat the lack of funding, the founders decided to file for grants, contribute research stipends and gather money from bake sales and in-kind donations to provide monetary relief for the residents and caregivers of under-served living facilities. Thus far, DementiAid has collectively raised over $5,000, and has since made 3 issues in their local newspaper.
The projects of DementiAid specifically target youth, but people of all ages are welcome. The DementiAid initiative is designed to provide free service opportunities to allow anyone and everyone who wants to serve to make a difference in their local community.