Family Focus: iPads helping reconnect people with dementia with their families

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For the past two years, 94-year-old Ted Knight has battled dementia, spending days bedridden and silent. But a new therapy is creating a spark.

Hospice social worker Emily Kennedy uses different apps to bring the world to help him and to connect using her iPad.

“The thing with working with people with dementia, you have to be in the moment and meet them whereever they are,” Kennedy said.

With the iPad, she can quickly switch gears from birds or art to scenes from places Knight has visited or music he’s heard.

For patients’ families, the therapy is priceless.

“It’s like having dad back for a few moments, however long his energy lasts. His enthusiasm, ability to concentrate, it’s an effort. But I have my dad back,” said Knight’s daughter, Chris Jenkins.

Kennedy said that kind of response inspired her to experiment with ways to engage patients for whom traditional treatments brought no reaction.

She teaches patients’ families how to use the tools, too.

“Ten years from now, they won’t remember my name, but remember how I made them feel. If I can care for their loved one, that’s what makes it worth it,” Kennedy said.

It’s a gift Jenkins and her father will treasure.

“I am happy for the journey, but I wish we didn’t have to make it. I’ve grown a lot from this, and he is still teaching me,” Jenkins said. “He makes me a better person.”

For more information on iPad therapy, click here