A fascinating article in the Montreal Gazette describes how people living in Health Central Park nursing home in Florida have had their brains, mobility, and social lives jump-started by a simple gadget: the iPad. The hope is that the iPad and other digital tablets could become a mainstream treatment device for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
“It came to us as a happy accident,” said Judy Skilton, Health Central Park’s director. “What started out as one resident’s curiosity about … an iPhone turned into something that is helping them spell, track items, make choices and read words. It’s amazing.”
How can the iPad help nursing home residents? Let me count the ways:
- The iPad’s swipe and touch-screen capabilities makes it accessible to people whose hands have atrophied, or who have disorders such as arthritis or Parkinson’s disease, which can make it difficult or even impossible for the individual to type or even use a mouse.
- It is small, lightweight, and looks like a piece of paper, which makes it nonthreatening for those who might be unwilling to use a computer.
- It is small enough to be used by people with even severe mobility problems.
- It has applications that allow individuals to communicate visually with family members who live far away.
- It has game apps that test a person’s memory, cognitive skills, and hand-eye coordination.
- It has iTunes capability, which allows an individual to play familiar music, or to watch television shows in the privacy of one’s room.
- It has a camera and photo albums, which can allow a resident to take pictures to share with others…and to look at pictures of family functions that they may not be able to attend. In that way, nursing home residents can remain a part of family.
- It has calendar and timer applications that can remind a person to take medication, or time a particular activity.
- It can be used to test a person’s functioning and mobility, which help residents and their caregivers understand how they are progressing in terms of daily living skills and general movement abilities.
According to the article:
Recreation-therapy assistant Marian Yandle said the Talking Tom Cat app, which features an animated feline that repeats what it is told, encouraged a 99-year-old resident to drink her fluids.
“She watched the cat drink a cup of milk. Then she took her own cup and drank her fluids. We were very excited,” Yandle said. “She also likes the music app and sings to Shirley Temple’s ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop.’ She knows all the words.”
Something so simple…an animated cat helped an elderly nursing home resident drink her own fluids. That’s as close to a magic as we get in real life!
To read the full article in the Montreal Gazette, click here: iPad helps elderly remember, socialize