New App Matches Seniors and Caregivers

The creators of Dwell at Home envisioned it as a way to use the gig economy to connect people looking to spend time fruitfully with those wanting a little more out of their golden years.

By William Thornton

There’s a lot about Birmingham-based startup Dwell at Home that’s unconventional.

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There’s its product -- an app that matches people needing caregivers with those willing to fulfill that role. It’s an idea with obvious implications, as the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to more than double over the next 40 years, reaching 80 million in 2040. The number of adults ages 85 and older, those most needing help with basic personal care, will nearly quadruple in that time. In Alabama, according to a 2019 census estimate, a little less than 17% of the state is over the age of 65.

And there’s the company owners, who don’t fit the traditional mold of millennial tech saavy entrepreneurs. Mike Clark is 58, and Rod Palmer is 59. The two already found business success selling Owl’s Hollow Farm products at Pepper Place.

But the two knew there was a growing need for honest, trustworthy caregivers.

Their solution is an app that connects caregivers with those needing care. That can mean anything from seven-day-a-week monitoring, to a trip to the grocery store or an afternoon of conversation. Clark and Palmer envisioned it as a way to use the gig economy to connect people looking to spend time fruitfully with those wanting a little more out of their golden years.

The app, available on Apple (the Android version coming in Spring), allows users to find caregivers available for whatever is needed, or caregivers to connect with those in need. While caregivers are vetted and certifications are available, those using the app can also leave ratings.

Only a few weeks after launching the app, Palmer said it already has more than 70 caregivers in the Birmingham area listed. The app also gives a readout of caregiver and client interests, as a way of matching them for more compatibility, with its unique algorithm finding matches in a few minutes according to personality, career, hobbies and preferences.

Families have a really hard time with this,” Clark said. “They feel guilty because they can’t do it themselves, but they know it’s the best thing. We think we have a real problem solving application that can help people around the country.”

Clark said the idea came from several sources. One was a visit to a woman in a nursing home unable to attend church. When he went to sign-in for a visit, he realized no one -- friends, relatives, acquaintances -- had been to see her in three months. It made him angry.

At the same time, Palmer’s 90-year-old mother needed more care, he said, prompting the two to sense a need.

There’s something like 10,000 people a day turning 65,” Clark said. “This segment of the population is growing at a crazy rate. And the same time, senior care kind of sucks. A lot of times, it seems like it’s just, ‘send the next person out.’"

“At the same time, you’ve got people looking for help with their parents, and they don’t know where to turn. You can go to agencies, and fill out a bunch of paperwork. We just wanted to make it easy for everyone involved.”

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