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Milwaukee company creates rideshare program to help dementia patients

Dr. Bashir created a rideshare service with a dementia-capable transportation component to support individuals with early stages of Alzheimer's.
Posted at 5:53 PM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 18:53:53-04

MILWAUKEE — Getting lost in a familiar place like driving to the grocery store is not a normal part of aging. It could be an early sign of dementia, a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills that eventually change one's ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

Dr. Bashir Easter understands all too well how the disease can change lives. His late mother was diagnosed at just 55 years old.

"We had to learn caring for our mother really through trial and error, we made a lot of mistakes," said Dr. Easter.

After working for the Department on Aging, he realized there were other families in need of resources and eventually started his business Melanin Minded, LLC.

"The mission is to be the bridge for information services and support for people of color," said Dr. Easter.

When it comes to dementia, statistics from the Alzheimer's Association show that African Americans are two times more likely than whites to have Alzheimer's, but only 34% more like to have a diagnosis. Hispanics are one and a half times more likely to have it and 18% more likely to be diagnosed.

Dr. Bashir created a rideshare service with a dementia-capable transportation component to support individuals with early stages of Alzheimer's.

"They still can go get out into the community which they do, they still function, the issue is that the keys have been taken away," said Dr. Easter.

Don Pannell is a retired firefighter-paramedic who joined Melanin Minded as a certified dementia driver.

"I was convinced that what he was about to start was amazing because it had a personal impact on me also. His Mom had Alzheimer's before she passed at 55 and my mom who is 89 acquired Alzheimer's at age 68," said Pannell.

Diane Flagg serves as a caregiver for her 90-year-old father. She uses the car service and says it's extremely helpful.

"We realized that there was something wrong because he got lost when he was driving, so we had to take the car from him and the family had to start giving him rides to the hospital or to clinic appointments," said Flagg.

AARP states that caring for a sick or dying loved one can certainly be rewarding, but it can also be stressful, leading to what's called "caregiver burnout." So a service like this could be helpful.

"We're not your usual pull up and blow and go...we actually go to the doors to help the patients if need to the car and we make sure they get to their destination," said Pannell.

Head to their website to learn more.

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