We live in a world of ever-growing technological advancement with new and improved smartphones, tablets, and other communication devices being released every year. We use these devices to stay connected to friends and loved ones, organize our lives, and access endless hours of entertainment. However, have you ever considered how these technologies can be used to enhance the lives of people living with memory loss? It is simple, effective, and easy to get started!
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia diminish short-term memory and it becomes difficult for these individuals to store and recall things that have recently occurred. This causes frustration for the caregiver and makes it difficult to communicate with the individual with memory loss during a time when they need the most support. Even though traditional forms of communication are difficult, using forms of technological communication can help keep the person with Alzheimer’s engaged and connected during conversation.
The first form of technological communication is the creation of narrative stories. This is simply an audio recording of the caregiver or loved one telling a story over pictures. It narrates a memory with visual aids to help them reminisce and communicate. The best stories are of a happy or meaningful time in their lives such as a trip they once took or even a past family pet. The Swaha app is a great tool to create a digital narrative story.
Caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients should use this communication tool in the early evening or whenever the individual becomes anxious. Ideally, the stories should be only 1 to 2 minutes in length and will help to provide comfort by listening to a familiar voice reminisce over beautiful images and visuals.
YouTube for Caregivers
Another great tool for communicating with individuals with memory loss is YouTube. It allows caregivers to create playlists of personalized music which can be a powerful method of reaching and engaging Alzheimer’s patients. Similar to the narrative stories, YouTube videos incorporate familiar sounds and visuals including guided prayers, live performances, clips from classic movies, and sporting events that they enjoyed earlier in life. Here is how to get started:
- Search for their favorite songs
- Include videos with lyrics to help them sing along
- Connect to speakers for enhanced sound
- Play music during daily activities such as bathing or getting dressed
Both narrative stories and YouTube videos are a great way to engage those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia through music, sound, and visuals. Due to their condition, the stories and music may seem new and different each time and may tap into different sections of their memory. Helping the person with dementia interact with these tools on a daily basis allows the caregiver interact more effectively and improves the comfort for that individual by decreasing stress and anxiety.