If our childhood friend "Old McDonald" ran the iTunes store instead of his farm, he'd probably sing, "Here an app, there an app, everywhere an app-app!" Today, there are hundreds of great Apple and Android applications that you can download for a better lifestyle.
In my ongoing search for great applications and other resources for seniors and caregivers, I ran across GreyMatters. It's an exciting and interactive free iPad app that that makes it easy to share memories and stories with family members suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.
Offered by GreyMatters LLC, this app is basically an interactive life storybook that includes preloaded music from past decades, memory games. It lets you add personal family photos with easy-to-read text, and can bring a big smile and a long-lost "spark of life" to seniors who spend their days lost in their own worlds.
I can tell you first hand that communicating is one of the most difficult aspects of caring for a parent with dementia. But several years ago, I realized that sharing memories over family photos was one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways for me to communicate with my father who had dementia.
We had some good laughs together as he told me stories prompted by pictures in his own high school yearbook, and we chuckled at the fashions and hairstyles in my yearbooks from the '70s. Those times together were some of my favorite memories of my dad in his last years.
Now, GreyMatters makes it easy for you to connect with an aging family member with memory issues. It gives you a wide variety of communication tools, so you can try different ways to break through. You can also record reminders for your loved one, or answers to their most common questions.
With GreyMatters, you can load your tablet with your own photos or videos from the past or the present. You could also play a game of memory cards, helping your senior find matching photos of Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, or other celebrities from that era. The tablet screen is big enough for a senior with vision problems, but light enough to fit in your purse.
You can also create a custom music playlist from your iTunes library or take advantage of pre-loaded songs from the 1940s and '50s that are bound to strike a chord with an aging relative. Maybe you could sing along together – but don't be surprised if your senior can remember the words to those old standards better than you can!
By letting you create a personalized digital "scrapbook," GreyMatters is providing a wonderful service to families all over the country. I encourage you to download this app, and share your experiences with me.
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