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Making time for a third career

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Starting a third career in your 60s is a daunting prospect. But Merilee Griffin, a former high school English and social studies teacher in Lansing, Mich., has practice. She took early retirement from the public school system and went into the public relations business, then she  returned to Michigan State to earn a Ph.D. Her research was in methods to improve cognitive skills. At the same time, she was struggling with her mother's Alzheimer's.

Her mother didn't live to see the introduction of her daughter's latest career -- developing and marketing a computer device that helps people who are memory challenged keep track of the details of everyday life. Called Memo, the software, which Griffin helped design, runs on an android 10-inch screen tablet. Caregivers can connect from any computer and add simple reminders - "It's noon, take your pill or the physical therapist is arriving. Unlock the door."

A Memo doesn't require a user to have any computer skills. "Anyone who can watch TV can use one of these," Griffin says.

Ringtone alerts keep the user focused on the device.

Griffin has partnered with her daughter, who has a business background, to get this project off the ground. "I would have to say, first and foremost, this is a labor of love," she says, "But we hope to sell enough to repay the bank loan and our own investment."

Griffin says her first love remains education, and, after this venture, she expects to return to MSU to complete a research project on the best ways to measure student learning. She says that, although she's not the youngest kid in the class, she feels comfortable as a lifelong student.

"I found wonderful support from my professors at MSU. They have never discriminated against me and never overlooked me."

As for retirement planning -- she thinks she's too young to think too hard about that.

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