RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Marc White is retired, though he’d be the first to tell you he misses his job as a Pension Administrator at Fidelity Investments. He enjoyed working with families and making sure everything was in order.
“Leaving was hard. I loved the job. I loved what I did.”
But in 2018 Marc’s wife Lisa was diagnosed with dementia. In the following years her health declined and, as White put it, “it was time to make different choices.” Two years ago he retired to support his wife full time.
According to the CDC, more than 24% of adults between 45 and 64 are caregivers. A third of caregivers provide care 20 or more hours a week, a tremendously difficult challenge, and one that often makes full-time work impossible.
Local company CareYaya seeks to support those providing elder care with vetted healthcare students who can provide part-time support at affordable prices. According to CEO Neal Shah, the company is now connected with more than 20 universities, offering 7,600+ student caregivers across 10 major cities/regions.
At the cross-section between gig tool and healthcare with a blend of artificial intelligence, the company aims to tackle the caregiving crisis by connecting student caregivers with families in need
White was seeking support to help him navigate the exhausting overnight hours of care when he began hearing about CareYaya in several of his support groups. Starting October 1st, they brought in their first “joygiver,” CareYaya’s term for its fleet of flexible care providers. White was “blown away” by the service.
“Just the willingness to help out as if it was their own family member,” said White. “I didn’t experience a whole lot of that with other caregivers.”
White’s experiences made him an advocate for CareYaya’s team of joygivers and, after meeting with the CareYaya team, became the inaugural “golden intern.” White helps out where he can with feedback on the CareYaya services and tools.
“I want to help them to be more successful,” White said. “Whatever I can do to contribute because I believe in this company so much.”
One of his first projects involved White and his wife Lisa, who tested out a tool for art therapy. The prototype tool from CareYaya was designed for spoken interaction, but after testing with the duo, CareYaya Chief Communications Office Roxy Garrity said they realized that a touchscreen version would be more beneficial.
White contributed other improvements to the project as well.
“Colors are a big thing for [those with] dementia,” said White. “When Lisa was using this tool I could see the expression on her face of how much she loved it.”
White also commented that his wife often struggled to identify areas of pain or discomfort when speaking with the doctor. As her disease has progressed, White says, the “brain and the point of pain doesn’t really connect.” However, art therapy tools can assist with this by allowing the patient to point on a screen and use colors to highlight the intensity of the pain.
“I think this could clear up a lot of issues and really enhance not just the patient’s experience but medical as well,” said White.
This paid internship program will allow interested retirees – and others – to share their experiences with caregiving and use their knowledge to steer CareYaya’s tools and services toward practical implementations.
Garrity emphasized that while CareYaya aims to provide these opportunities to retirees, anyone who can’t work a full-time job because of caregiving duties could take on an intern role. Participants may be providing insights through conversations, surveys or even providing feedback on CareYaya’s artificial intelligence tools. No technical experience is required.
Garrity also mentioned that the company will be seeking community advocates across the regions they serve.
“We want to make it flexible for everyone to have them be engaged with our team and also alongside the community,” she said. “[We can] build these innovations and have them share their wisdom with us.”
Interested parties can apply now, not only for the Triangle area but in Florida, Washington D.C., Boston, and California anticipating expansion to those areas in the new year. More information about the program is available at https://ai-program.careyaya.org/.
White is ready for any role with the company.
“This city, this region, this state, this country, needs more companies like CareYaya.”