WILMETTE, Ill. (WLS) -- A Northwestern University sophomore, Victoria Da Conceicao, is making Chicago proud by creating custom care packages for people who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia.
Da Conceicao, the 19-year-old university student, created her business called "Alzheimer's Brain Box," which offers Alzheimer's and dementia patients a package filled with custom coloring books along with personalized writing prompts and essential oils.
"The brain box is a care package for Alzheimer's patients. It's based on photos of their lives. People send me pictures of their loved ones from various points of their lives and I turn them into coloring books," said Da Conceicao.
Her business started in 2018 when her beloved Mexican grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. At the time, Da Conceicao was a high school student in California and living with her grandmother. She then began researching therapies for the disease. From her findings, she learned that puzzles, custom coloring books and essential oils could help engage the brain and improve memory.
"We're very close, yeah. She pretty much helped raise me. She lived really close to me my whole life," said the Northwestern University sophomore.
Throughout her research, she found that Alzheimer's and dementia affect Black and brown communities at a higher rate. According to the Alzheimer's Prevention Initiative, Latinos develop the disease one and one-half times more often than a non-Latino white. African Americans are two to three times as likely to develop Alzheimer's. These statistics were enough to push Victoria to help.
"I basically had a choice. Either I can make something of it and help other people or sit there and be upset about it," she said.
The Alzheimer's Brain Box is partnering with Yolo Hospice, a non-profit based in California. They will be providing over 50 boxes to their patients.
"To be that specific and provide specific pictures with people who have Alzheimer's where they actually fill in the drawing of their own kitchen and just really personalized to every person, that was very exciting to us and we're always looking for ways to support our patients," said Louise Joyce, Director of Community Development at Yolo Hospice.
The Sociology major said her grandmother is her motivating force behind the business. Da Conceicao said her goal is work with more care homes in the U.S.