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Adaptive computer technologies demonstrate measurable benefits to persons with dementia including increased engagement in daily life activities, decreased agitated behaviors, and improved physical and psychological well-being,” claims Jack York, President and Co-founder of It’s Never 2 Late (iN2L), whose motto is “Dignity Through Technology.” In 1999, Jack invented a computer system geared toward the elderly who are often left out of the technology craze of the last several decades. iN2L computers provide over 3,000 programs of a wide variety to suit the needs of any elderly person, empowering them to still do the things they love and stay connected in the midst of memory impairment or other life-limiting illnesses.

In a typical nursing home, residents must fit themselves into programs that are already offered, with no programs tailored to their desires. With AIG’s programming method, every resident’s past and needs are considered. For several years, AIG staff have been using creative methods of implementing iN2L technology in nursing homes and retired religious communities to achieve individualized programming suited to each resident’s preferences. The method begins by filling out resident profiles that assess each resident’s past occupation, life details, and activity preferences, and whether they prefer solitary activities, large groups, or small groups. From there, AIG staff analyze the profiles to establish groups of residents with similar size and activity type preferences. AIG also produces a report of recommendations for activities that iN2L offers that are of interest to the residents based on the profiles.

The next step is for AIG staff to meet with the nursing home activities staff to discuss the reports and examine in detail how to enhance their current schedule based on the variety of iN2L programs available. “Our method involves a lot of communication,” says Stacey Sumereau, coordinator of Programmed Services for AIG. “I can come up with lots of programming ideas, but they’re the ones who know the residents personally and know the way the home works. Often, the profiles will reveal details about residents likes and their history that the activities staff didn’t know anything about. Then it’s really exciting when we have meetings because we can come up with creative ways to bring residents new activities they will love. There are so many ways to use iN2L that there really is something for everyone.

After initial meetings to train the activities staff on iN2L and revise the schedule to incorporate new activities, AIG staff and activities staff continue to check in regularly to meet new challenges and tweak the schedule so that it is continuously evolving for the better. In several homes, the collaboration of AIG staff and activities staff led to Sisters with dementia meeting regularly to pray the rosary led by iN2L, which is a structured and comforting prayer that provides them with stability and familiarity in the midst of their disease. One home hosted meetings where the Sisters could come enjoy video armchair travel sessions using iN2L to places where they served and discuss their past experiences in those places. Another home kept the iN2L system on in the activities room throughout December playing Christmas music while displaying a warm crackling fireplace background which fostered a warm atmosphere and increased spontaneous resident socialization as they gathered around the “fire” to reminisce. No matter what the resident’s likes and dislikes, iN2L can be used to stimulate engagement with others and connection to the past. Seniors who previously disliked technology are now using it for engagement outside of regular programming hours, thereby staying connected to people, the world, and their past.

Jack York writes: “Today this type of technology is considered unique and creative; tomorrow it will be demanded. The activity and therapy programming must be designed to appeal to a different expectation than has existed in years past.” Person-centered programming is currently at the forefront of nursing home care; however, it is a long-overdue and much-needed aspect of technology use and truly has the ability to change lives.

Jack York will be presenting at the AIG October Long-term Care Conference on Monday, October 9, 2017 from 3:15 - 4:15 pm.