By Amy Feeney
Technology helps bridge the communication gap
Recreational therapy has many benefits for seniors. It can improve mood, self-esteem, social connections, cognitive function, physical health and more.
With all the great benefits, it is no surprise that this recreational therapy is popular among long-term senior care facilities.
Recreational therapy includes leisure activities such as sports, art, music, games, etc., repurposed for therapeutic purposes. But it can vary considerably based on the therapy participants and their ability level.
In senior care, one consideration for recreation therapists is communication. No two residents are the same, but many deal with communication barriers that can stem from cognitive function, generation gaps and hearing deficits.
Adaptive technology provides great tools to help bridge communication gaps among residents and recreational therapists. For example, therapists can tailor equipment and activities to individual memory care residents based on their past interests, and even more importantly, their current abilities. Therapists can also use technology in group settings to encourage engagement and interaction.
The average age for a recreational therapist is around 45, while almost half of all people who live in a nursing home are 85 years or older. But therapists are able to leverage their familiarity with adaptive technology to connect with older generations.
One example of recreational therapy technology is the iN2L or “It’s Never Too Late” system. iN2L uses touch screens to bring customized content to senior care communities, including cognitive games, sensory experiences, guided physical activities, realistic reminiscing videos, music and more.
After receiving a grant from M&T Bank, Loretto was able to implement the iN2L system throughout several facilities, including The Commons on St. Anthony, The Heritage, and Loretto Health & Rehabilitation. iN2L has completely changed the level of engagement that therapists can have with memory care residents.
A favorite feature among many memory care residents is the music, which can help to spark a memory and improve moods. iN2L offers sing-alongs, music trivia, dancing and “name that singer.”
Another feature shows catchy commercials and jingles from residents’ younger days. Not only might this spark a memory, but it can also spark a conversation or an interaction between older adults and therapists.
Learn more about Loretto’s memory life communities and recreational therapy at https://lorettocny.org/loretto-life/memory-care
Amy Feeney is the director of therapeutic recreation and volunteers at The Commons on St. Anthony, part