GRESHAM, Ore. -- A new interactive tool at a Gresham assisted living facility is helping those with memory loss exercise their minds.
Once people who live at Farmington Square in Gresham sit down on their couches and turn on a screen, the change is almost instant. The touchscreen looks like a giant iPad.
Trivia questions occupied the screen on Tuesday. While it may look like a simple game of trivia, staff who care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s at Farmington Square say the screen they use does so much more.
“It brings an enjoyment. It brings back life,” said Lisa Dahl, the activities assistant at Farmington Square.
One of the residents is Willena Kelly. She and her neighbors are among a growing group using a program called "It's Never 2 Late." From old commercials, to travel videos, to old family photos, the visuals help keep them engaged as their minds begin to fade. Staff said they’ve been using the program for about six months now.
“There's something going on all the time. I like that. It's good to be involved, to be with all these guys,” said resident Norma Doremiere.
“Man it's wonderful. It's wonderful to see connection,” Dahl said.
The program has been so successful that staff have expanded the program to all 18 of their locations in four states.
“It's so powerful to see music transform and bring them back to their childhood,” Dahl said.
When you're slowly losing a part of yourself, it can be the special moments and memories on a screen playing for a precious few minutes that help bring you back.
The program can be customized with old photos and home videos that will spark each individual's interest.
Not everyone has access to the “It’s Never 2 Late” program but there are a growing number of free apps for tablets or phones that have similar exercises for people dealing with memory loss.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the number could soar to as high as 16 million.