Jason is one of our SimpleC clinicians. He visits assisted living facilities, and works with people who have dementia. One day, he met a man who sat alone in a community room. The man didn’t talk. Talking was hard. Sometimes, he uttered a broken phrase.
Jason uncovered a piece of the story; the man had played football at Michigan State. So Jason collected some memories, photos of that team, a fight song recording. He built a therapy in SimpleC, and met with the man once a week. The man then began speaking in sentences, mostly partial, and some complete. The care staff would watch. But they told Jason that the man was having a good day.
I know that used to upset our clinicians. When they test the SimpleC app, they show people pictures, recordings and games that help to trigger connections. The clinicians feel like they see glimmers of hope, sparks of recognition.
Then, one day, Jason walked in. The man saw Jason, looked in his eyes, stood up, and sang the Michigan State fight song. Everybody in the place knew that it was more than a good day. For us, it was a turning point.
The power of personalization
People will try to tell you that technology isn’t personal.
That’s a fallacy. It’s just that we haven’t built personal technology. Well, now we can. With the SimpleC app, we can either use a standard therapy or personalize one. I have to tell you that when we personalize therapies the effectiveness skyrockets.
We’ve met a lot of patients. One was a lifelong pastor. We filled his SimpleC tablet with pictures of his churches, the places he lived and some of his sermons.
His son called us. He said, “I just had the best conversation I’ve had with my dad in years.” We asked what they talked about. He said, “Oh, we were talking about where we lived when he was the pastor of a particular church, and he was talking about all these things that happened, and what he did and where he went.”
It’s because he was reconnected with that experience. It was vivid for him. It was there, in his long-term memory, waiting. We helped light it up.
Motivation for tomorrow
That is the difference that we can make with cognitive health care. We can change the quality of life.
It changes a patient’s trajectory. Do they still want to live on their own? Do they still want to help themselves? These motivations can spiral down. Families can feel confused and lost. Care staff can feel overwhelmed at facilities where they might only have time to finish their tasks and fill the prescriptions.
There is no drug prescription for motivation. People need to feel validation, hear a voice they trust, see and remember the people, places and things they love. That brings back memories. It helps them think of positive things.
Rediscovering memories and thoughts can keep people fresh, keep their minds working and motivate them for tomorrow.
Editor’s Note: Listen to the IBM Wild Ducks podcast below to hear more about cognitive health care from Dan and learn how SimpleC is helping change care options. Learn more about Dan’s journey developing SimpleC in our last post.
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