Let’s Get Together, Apart
Before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world as we knew it, HealthSense had been looking ahead to explore new and innovative ways to keep connected and engaged with our clients. Our November 2019 Blog, Technology and Touch – Bridging the Divide, explored ways technology can keep seniors safe, independent and connected.
MindSense, our cognitive enrichment division, was conceived 18 months ago to address the detrimental effects of social isolation which we saw as a widespread and growing health risk for older populations. Our in-person, highly customized cognitive enrichment visits empowered clients and their families to rediscover a sense of purpose and fun. For many clients, we were able to connect them back into the community and re-engage them with their passions and interests. For others, we mentored and supported families and caregivers of those with dementia to help them have more meaningful relationships.
When the COVID-19 pandemic ground all in-person interaction to a halt, we all began living with the oxymoron of social distancing. We humans are social beings at our core. In this strange new landscape, my team and I were witnessing fear, anxiety, boredom and sadness all around us. This was especially true for those older folks with mild or moderate cognitive impairments who couldn’t fully process or understand why no one was visiting with them.
Virtual cognitive enrichment was a future-planned MindSense service for those living in distant geographical regions from family. Since COVID-19 emerged, this program begged for attention. As “MindSense Goes Virtual” rolled out, our talented team of cognitive enrichment specialists began their intrepid outreach. During this process, they found themselves a surprising new superpower–they are mythbusters! Here are just a few:
Myth #1 Seniors are not interested in technology
False: Seniors want human connection just like everyone else and if technology allows them to connect with family, friends and their interests – they are up for it. It is how that technology is introduced and delivered that will determine their success – patience, respect and optimism are all key ingredients in the technology roll-out.
Myth #2 Seniors are not capable of using technology
False: MindSense has clients in their eighties and nineties, some with mild cognitive impairment and others who are non-verbal with advanced dementia who are doing just splendidly, thank you very much! Depending on their own unique situations, they are streaming concerts and religious services, FaceTiming with their grandchildren, sending and receiving emails and connecting on social media primarily through Facebook. For those that may have some dexterity issues, their caregivers or a virtual voice-activated assistant like Alexa can often bridge the gap to achieve their goals.
Myth #3 Virtual enrichment sessions are limited and not as effective as personal interactions
False: Our clients attend virtual concerts with their enrichment specialists. They show up dressed to the nines, some with a cocktail in hand! They armchair travel to intriguing regions around the world and also enjoy dropping into familiar neighborhoods from their past to relive special joyful memories. They play games and crossword puzzles and write jokes and limericks. They create art. Most of all, they show up because someone cares and wants to share experiences with them.
We all have a story to tell, a memory to share and a secret joy to experience. Until we are back to our normal ways, let’s “get our virtual on” and be together apart! To learn more about our virtual MindSense services and for a free consultation, please contact us. Our director of MindSense, Emily Scholler, is here to help you learn about our cognitive enrichment program.
Written by Anne Sansevero