Tablets helps long-term care residents stay connected

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – The Alzheimer’s Association has partnered with Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs to provide senior-friendly tablets to nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

It’s part of what’s called Project Vital, an effort to provide seniors and others in long-term care facilities, with ways to stimulate their minds and memories amid the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Seagrass Village, a long-term care facility in Fleming Island, received two of the tablets. They will help people like John Vye connect with family while visitation is suspended.

Vye hasn’t seen his wife, Cheryle, in person since March 15. But now he can get in touch with her with a video chat app that has been loaded onto the tablets.

“She’s beautiful,” Vye said of his wife Friday.

Taylor Campbell, executive director of Seagrass Village, said the facility is doing the best it can given the circumstances. She said applications on the tablets are geared toward Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

“Mental stimulation and socialization are key components to anybody in life,” Campbell said. “When we are looking at seniors, it’s even more important to be engaged with your loved ones, talking to people, interacting with people and also making sure that your brain stimulation is still engaged.”

Besides video chat, the tablets also come preloaded with games, books, movies and music.

“They can watch old-fashioned videos,” Campbell said, adding that “music therapy is a very big deal in memory care.”

Thanks to this program, residents now have a way to connect with their loved ones with a simple tap on the home screen. They can also make profiles for families to add personal photos and videos. Campbell said the tablets are easier for residents to engage with than smartphones.

“The screen’s easier to use, it’s brighter in a lot of ways and it’s not as difficult to use,” she said. “So they just looked at the tablet, ‘That’s my daughter, that’s my granddaughter, that’s my dog.’"

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