ORONO – Residents living with Alzheimer’s at a local retirement home are getting a chance to improve their quality of life using a new technology.
The new technology comes from an idea from Dirigo Pine’s parent company in Topsham, Maine.
Now, it has made its way to Orono, showing residents with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones it is never too late to remember.
Dirigo Pines resident, Ellie, can be hard to understand sometimes.
She lives with Alzheimer’s at the retirement home at 83 years old and has lost her ability to speak clearly.
But recently, a new piece of technology in memory care is helping Ellie have moments of her old self.
“To see people make the connection and be excited about something from their past and wanting to share it with others is a nice thing to see,” says Tracy Comer, Lead Activities Assistant at Dirigo Pines.
Comer oversees the interactive “It’s Never 2 Late” program at the retirement community.
“I kind of underestimated what it was,” she says about her first impressions of the new technology.
The program allows instructors or loved ones to use a touch screen device to select a user’s personalized profile.
From there you can pull up music, pictures, maps and more that can help trigger emotional experiences in certain residents with Alzheimer’s like Ellie.
Now, Ellie can recall words to old songs she used to sing, despite her problems with speaking clearly.
“If you access old memory, especially music,” says Dr. Clifford Singer, MD, Chief of Geriatric Neuropsychiatry at Acadia Hospital. “The music that people like when they were in high school or when they were young, you can really engage deep emotional responses in people who seem to have long ago given up.”
Dr. Singer says while technology like this is not proven to permanently fix the problem of Alzheimer’s, it can go a long way in improving the quality of life of residents and their families dealing with this difficult disease.
“Emotional experiences can have an emotional effect of even hours, or days in making them happier or calmer,” says Dr. Singer.
“It kind of gives you a comfort level knowing that there’s some life left in her,” says Husson Women’s Head Basketball Coach, Kissy Walker, who is the daughter of Ellie. “You know that she’s having some some happiness.”
In part two of this special report, we hear more from Kissy about how this new technology impacts her family as they deal with a loved one living with Alzheimer’s.