Jul 26, 2022 | Helping Mum Journey

Helping Mum. More than just an app

Written by Daren David Taylor

This app is very personal to me and as such, I’d like to share the story behind it in a way that speaks from the heart. More than just a case study about an app, this is a tale of how love inspires the most valuable ideas and the power that technology has to connect us.

My mother is an active and independent woman, who in recent years has started suffering with rheumatoid arthritis and dementia. These challenges are far from stopping her in her tracks and she enjoys her days, loves her beautiful house and garden, and spends lots of time with her friends. Not all days are perfect, however, and she needs her family’s support now more than ever. 


My sister and I alternate tasks and help her keep track of medications and attend appointments and social activities. I visit her every day, take her for drives around the area and she even joins me at the gym some days (to have a cup of tea in the café and tell me what a great job I’ve done!). We both want her to feel and remain independent and enjoy her day-to-day life for as long as possible.


The inspiration that sparked the idea

Reaching my mum by phone or text is becoming increasingly difficult with every day that goes by. She often misses calls, forgets to charge her battery, or turn the volume up, or simply misplaces her phone. Texts are also difficult as they can be overlooked, but even in cases where she sees them, another one pops up or she gets distracted on her phone and quickly forgets I messaged her.

None of us are immune to missing a call or a text, however, in my mum’s case, it’s starting to cause serious problems, such as missed doctor’s appointments. Moreover, it would often lead to arguments as she got frustrated with her phone and it was a stressful and inefficient method of communication for both of us.

To anyone with elderly relatives, these issues may seem familiar. You might think to yourself – “Daren, I know you’re an app developer, but couldn’t you just download something off the app store?”.

Trust me, I tried.

I scoured existing apps that would help me communicate with my mum and tested many of the. Although they might have fit someone else’s needs, they weren’t the right solution for our problem. Most existing apps focused on scheduling reminders to organise someone’s life, which my very independent mum insists on doing herself and doesn’t need much help with. What I needed was a way to communicate more effectively with her when I’m not around.

The Vision

Over time I started envisioning an app that could make communicating easier and fool proof.

It would start with an old iPad placed on a charging stand in her living room. The static set-up would guarantee that the device is always charged and visible, so no more flat battery and misplaced phones. Moreover, it would always be at the same place and part of her routine, making it difficult to miss.

Then comes the app. Firstly, with guided access I could restrict her from accidentally switching apps and changing the settings and guarantee everything works as intended. Then, I would create a partner app on my phone, which I can use to send a simple text message. The key thing here is that my message would fill up the screen and remain on it so I can trigger sound alerts to remind her it’s there. Once she sees it, my mum would be able to choose from a few simple responses such as yes / no /ok. As she selects one, I would be notified, reassuring me that the message has been read and letting me know what action I need to take.

Why not solve another problem while we’re at it?

My mum will often call me and if I miss the call, or I have no network connection, she might forget she tried to call and not try again later. In a lot of cases, this means that whatever it was that she wanted to tell me would be lost for good.

To solve this, I would add a button on her iPad that would send me a push notification each time she taps it, letting me know that my mum wants to talk to me. This way, I can call her back and monitor my phone for notifications during meetings. If I’m unable to call her for any reason, I can tap on the notification to send a prewritten reply such as “are you ok? can I call you in 10 mins?”. My mum, in turn, can select from the short yes/no answers on her iPad and notify me instantly.


Room for Growth

I started building this app several months ago and it’s now ready for testing. The more I work on it, the more features I can think of adding to it. I get excited envisioning all the ways in which this can improve her life in, and the opportunities it presents can be overwhelming. Further down the line, I’d like to add a simple flashcard screensaver that shows her images with text of words she struggles to remember, a clock and maybe a simple calendar.

For now, however, my focus is on making this app as simple as possible so it can tackle the problem I set out solve – staying in touch with my mum when I can’t be physically there.

About the Author

Daren is our Founder & CEO. He has over 20 years of experience in app development and is an expert in Flutter, iOS, and Android development. Also, he is a family man first but is also a big F1 and racing enthusiast.

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Need help creating an app for your business?

Just drop us a line or book a free discovery call to chat about what you have in mind and how we can help you achieve it.

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