If you’re a regular reader of Live Sigma Kappa, you know that September is World Alzheimer’s Month. More than 100 countries are using this time to raise awareness. The Alzheimer’s Association asks all of us to make a difference by taking these actions:
- Wear purple on Sept. 21, Alzheimer’s Action Day.
- Speak up and fight stigma.
- Turn Facebook & Twitter purple by changing your profile picture to the END ALZ icon.
You may think that changing your profile pic is one of the only technology-related things that you can do when it comes to fighting or dealing with Alzheimer’s. But that’s not the case. Two of my fellow bloggers have already shared some Internet resources that are available. Anne told us about word, number and trivia games to keep your brain in shape in her Sept 6th post; and on Sept 14th, Courtney shared some great websites that promote brain fitness through nutrition, physical activity, socialization and spirituality. Most recently, on Sept 17th, Alexandra shared great ways to make use of your digital camera and/or online photobook sites like Mixbook, Shutterfly and MyCanvas.
Puzzles, games, websites and photos are great for people who want to stay indoors, but what if you have a loved one in the early stages of memory loss who still wants to get out and about and still be independent? You might be interested in a couple of Android and iPhone apps for keeping track of family members. They allow you to give them mobility while maintaining your own peace of mind.
The first “family safety app” to come to my attention was Life360. I heard about it in 2011, shortly after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. While it’s not specifically designed for use with Alzheimer’s, if installed and running in the background of an elderly relative’s GPS-enabled phone, it can be a great way to monitor their safety and location without having to bother them with phone calls.
More recently, I learned of Alzheimer’s Association Comfort Zone Check-In. Available since 2009, it appears to be the first (and perhaps only) system designed specifically with Alzheimer’s in mind. In addition to tracking your loved one, it includes enrollment in other useful services, such as MedicAlert® and Safe Return®.
If you have a loved one who is no longer mobile due to Alzheimer’s, there is still technology that can improve their quality of life: an iPod! More and more researchers are finding a link between music and memory. Dr Oliver Sacks — you might remember him from the movie Awakenings, starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro — has written a book about the power of music, and has written of Alzheimer’s patients, “…all of them, without exception, respond to music. This is especially true of old songs and songs they once knew. These seem to touch springs of memory and emotion which may be completely inaccessible to them. It is most amazing to see people who are out of it and sort of dark respond suddenly to a music therapist and a familiar song.”
My dad, who is a musician, has been an advocate of music therapy for years. He made sure that everybody who took care of my mom knew to keep the music coming, whether it be through her iPod, CDs or videos of old musicals. My mom was still able to sing her favorite songs long after her Alzheimer’s had taken her ability to carry on a conversation, dress herself, or remember recent events. And that made her smile — which always made us smile.
This post was written by Teri Centner. Contact Teri at email@example.com
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