The IPad and Alzheimer’s

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease approximately 4 years ago. Fortunately she is still quite alert and has a very sweet, loving disposition. She often refers to the aides and her fellow residents at Harbor Point as “dearie”

I talk to her a lot about her friends and relatives who have written to her or called her. Often she becomes confused when she tries to remember what they look like or who they are. I have found that showing her a photo of that person when I mention their name takes away a lot of the stress and frustration and she recognizes the person right away

Recently we celebrated her 90th birthday at a local restaurant. 12 people from the family joined her at the party. One of her nieces (Cheryl) was kind enough to give her a gift card to her favorite restaurant (Ninety Nine) and she was just thrilled.

My wife, Mary took a number of pictures of everyone who attended the party and I loaded these pictures onto my iPad. When I visited mom the week after the party I mentioned what a wonderful gift her niece, Cheryl had given her. She was confused and thought it was another niece who had given her the gift. I immediately opened up the iPad, showed her the pictures of the party and pointed to Cheryl. “There she is, right after she gave you the gift.” Mom recognized her and acknowledged how nice it was of her to be so generous.

I have often used pictures from my iPad to put Mom back in touch with the important events and people in her life. Several years ago I borrowed all my parents’ old photo albums and scanned hundreds of pictures into IPhoto on my computer. My dad had been a real photo buff and often developed many of his own pictures. Several of these pictures were classic shots of both my parents when they were quite young. I have a wonderful photo of my mom in her beautiful white high school graduation gown. She looks absolutely stunning! I’ve also got several pictures of mom and dad as young sweethearts.

I downloaded hundreds of these pictures onto my iPad and divided them into several albums representing different periods in my Mom’s life. When we are talking she’ll often ask questions like ”When did you get married? Was I there?” I can then go directly to the pictures of our wedding and show her that she was in fact there and looked quite attractive. We will often go through a number of pictures from her past and discuss the events around them. She loves to look at pictures of my father when he was a sharp young soldier during WWll. That leads into extensive conversations abut how great a father and husband Dad was.

The iPad is so easy to share pictures with her. The photos take up the whole screen and are quite clear. We can make pictures smaller or larger by squeezing or extending our fingers on the screen. Mom can change photos by just brushing her finger across the screen or tapping it. It is such a wonderful tool to share memories with her.  Frankly I don’t know how I’d share all these memories with her without it. The iPad enriches each visit we have together. And that has made all the difference.

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4 thoughts on “The IPad and Alzheimer’s

  1. Lovely! What a wonderful way to keep her in touch with her memories. Our parents worked hard to live a good life and you have given her the tool to be in touch with that effort and the reward.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Becky Scott

  2. The iRecognize app for the iPad allows you to use your own photos to create exercises that displays 1 to 6 photos at a time then prompts the user to locate one of the photos from written and spoken labels that you create. It keeps track of how the person is doing each time they use the app.

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