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  • Writer's pictureNicole Will

Flourishing Together: Community and Innovation in Dementia Care


Natalie Elliott Handy confessions of a reluctant caregiver

Flourishing Together: Community and Innovation in Dementia Care with Allyson Schrier, CEO and Co-Founder of Zinnia



Allyson Schrier's life took an unexpected turn when her husband was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. At the time, he was 47 years old, and their kids were 12 and 15. Like many families, they faced the challenges of caring for their loved one and have a deep desire to help families thrive beyond the diagnosis.


My guest today is Allyson Schrier, CEO and co-founder of Zinnia. Allyson is also the recipient of the Maude Awards for innovation in Alzheimer's care and was named a visionary caregiver by caregiving.com. Zinnia was formed in 2019 in response to Allyson's experience as a dementia family caregiver. Allyson joined forces with the former designer of Apple's memory product, and together they created an app for connected TVs and a mobile app that delivers a library of videos functioning as a non-pharmacological tool to create connections, reduce stress, and provide soothing aids to help with daily living activities.


In our conversation today, Allyson vulnerably shares her experience as a spouse caregiving for her husband, as well as the factors we should be looking for. We talk about the specific challenges of frontotemporal dementia and the unique dynamics of spouse caregiving. We shed light on early detection, as the average age of diagnosis for this condition falls between 30 and 50 years, but confirmation can often take a long time. We discuss what we should be looking for and Allyson's personal journey in finding hope and managing caregiver burnout, while also covering available resources such as the invaluable expertise of Teepa Snow and the groundbreaking work at the University of Washington's Memory and Brain Wellness Center.


We also address the delicate issue of when a loved one wants to keep their condition a secret and discuss the gifts that come from sharing the diagnosis with friends, family, and coworkers. Together, we explore the power of finding community and the impact of research and prevention. Allyson shares about the innovative partnerships they've established, including the collaboration with Touchtown and their participation in the Techstars Future of Longevity Accelerator. This has been a transformative journey for Allyson, and she emphasizes the importance of supporting one another in driving to make a difference in the lives of those living with dementia. Their mission is to ensure that no one faces the challenges of memory loss alone, and Allyson's call, like the name and flower of Zinnia, is that we bloom even in the harshest conditions. Zinnia helps people flourish beyond their diagnosis. Thank you, Allyson, for your work in education and advocacy!


Listen to our episode HERE.



Allyson shares about:


  • Her experience as a spouse caregiver and the journey it took their family on

  • Specific challenges of frontotemporal dementia and what factors we can be looking for

  • Early detection is important, but diagnosis confirmation can be a lengthy process

  • Her personal journey includes finding hope and managing caregiver burnout

  • Available resources like Teepa Snow's expertise and the University of Washington's Memory and Brain Wellness Center

  • The unexpected gifts of sharing our loved one's diagnosis with others

  • Community support and the impact of research and prevention

  • The importance of supporting one another and making a difference in the lives of those with dementia

  • How Zinnia's mission is to ensure no one faces memory loss challenges alone

Learn more at www.zinniatv.com


About Allyson Schrier & Zinnia


Allyson Schrier, CEO and Co-Founder of Zinnia is a former family care partner for her husband who was diagnosed with dementia in his 40s. Allyson is affiliated with the University of Washington’s Memory and Brain Wellness Center where she manages an education program for primary and allied healthcare providers interested in becoming regional experts in dementia detection, diagnosis and support. She stays connected to ‘her people’ by facilitating a twice-monthly support group for spouses of people with dementia.


Allyson is a recipient of a 2020 Maude’s Awards for Innovation in Alzheimer’s Care, and was named Visionary Caregiver of 2020 by caregiving.com.


Zinnia Technologies was formed in 2019 in response to Co-founder, Allyson Schrier's experience as a dementia family caregiver. Inspired by the lack of available TV programming that was engaging for and digestible by people living with dementia, Allyson joined forces with the former designer of Apple's Memories product, a whiz-bang financial and operations person, and an enormously talented visual artist and storyteller. Together they have created an app for connected TVs and mobile apps that delivers a library of more than 200 videos that function as a non-pharmacological tool to create connections, reduce and soothe anxiety, and help with activities of daily living.



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*This episode is brought to you by Gigi Betty co. A boutique gift shop raising awareness and funds for caregivers and care partners. Show now at www.gigibettyco.com. Use the special code WILLGATHER20 for 20% off your order- Just for our podcast listeners!


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We are not medical professionals and are not providing any medical advice. If you have any medical questions, we recommend that you talk with a medical professional of your choice. willGather has taken care in selecting its speakers but the opinions of our speakers are theirs alone. Thank you for your continued interest in our podcasts.


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Nicole Will is our host and founder of willGather.


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