Opinions on Technology With LTC Residents?

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    I am relatively new to LTC and working with dementia and Parkinson's patients. I often have my smart phone with me and have used it a few times to show something to a resident. I think that what I've shown is completely appropriate (nothing I wouldn't want someone to show my own parents), but I've been thinking that there may be wisdom among the people here on the subject. For example, I think it's OK if you're showing one or two family photos (assuming you're not boring the resident and are using this to jog their side of the conversation), looking up a funny but G-rated YouTube, researching a point of discussion or examples of an artist's work or a composer's cannon, or a simple memory booster game (there's a great app called "marbles"). What do you think IS appropriate and where would you draw the line of caution. Is there too much danger that someone might think you're texting when you're supposed to be serving residents? IMO, it would, for example, be wrong to take pictures and obviously you shouldn't be doing personal business when watching patients, but as a caregiver, doesn't it seem like part of "lifelong learning" to introduce seniors in memory care (or just LTC) to new things? I'm interested to hear all thoughts on the topic. Thank you.
    Last edit by SeniorHomer on Oct 25, '11 : Reason: Grammar, clarity
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  4. 6 Comments so far...

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    I was chatting with one of our patients who often suffers from sundowners. He was having a good night and we got chatting about Steve Jobs. I showed him my iPhone and how the GPS and map works for giving directions. The old guy was amazed, we then got talking about other technological advancements during his lifetime. It was a good opportunity to have an intelligent conversation with a man who's not always not all there. He enjoyed our conversation.
    Hospice Nurse LPN likes this.
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    Homer, IME those requiring a memory care unit don't have much ability to remember what they already have learned, let alone acquire new knowledge. You would better serve them with helping them to maintain the skills they have. Going through albums of their family members, helping them dress - they respond well to respect but can become quite frustrated trying to master something new. Simple puzzles are useful - think, for dementia, "reverse aging." They are, intellectually, regressing. Now, one should continue to stimulate them - with music, conversation, sensation - but always bear in mind the very real limitations of their attention spans and neurological deficits.
    Hospice Nurse LPN and deleern like this.
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    I'm curious if your facility has rules about phone use while working. My facility does not allow phones to be used unless on break and away from the nurse station and patient areas. We are strict about it, several have been suspended/fired for this.
    melby87 likes this.
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    I guess it would depend on your facility and if they allow that kind of thing. I would hate for you to get in trouble where one of your residents or one of their family members reports you because they think you are using it for another reason. But just always make sure you're careful and keep only showing appropriate matter, and make sure the resident can handle the content. But I would agree that what you're showing them may be interesting to them, and its definitely showing them a whole new side of the world they've never seen before. I show my grandmother my phone and other related things like that all the time and she is just astounded.
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    Right now I am only working as a volunteer, so it's not an issue of employment rules for me, though I still want to do the right thing (and I realize I could simply ask, but it's amazing how dysfunctional the hierarchy seems to be, so I don't know if they care/ and/or would have a policy). Anyway, I think the replies about seniors finding the technology interesting goes to the point of my inquiry. If I'm there to stimulate them and if technology is a partial solution to that then maybe it has its place. I also 'admit' I've seen it bomb as one of the comments alluded to, where it just went over their head. However, the reason I asked is because I thought that maybe if we discussed it and shared a wide variety of perspectives that maybe we could throw a little light on the why's and when's of the times it does work. So, thanks for the replies so far and here's hoping for more to come!
    Last edit by SeniorHomer on Oct 25, '11 : Reason: Typos
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    Homer, the biggest thing I have found for engaging those with dementia is a special way of approaching them.

    As an example, questions that can't be answered with a yes or know will leave some of them stymied, as will abstract concepts. Now, here and there you'll have people who are completely alert and oriented to time, person and place (A&Ox3) but with the short term memories of turnips. So they will not remember what you showed them although they will remember you and be engaged at the time of the interaction.

    Just have conversations with them the way you would any interesting person but avoid abstractions and things that will frustrate them, such as, well, remembering the last time you met.

    You'll gain skill as you become more familiar with this population, and since you seem a devoted and sensitive sort you'll excel.
    melby87 and Hospice Nurse LPN like this.


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