Great ideas for improving patient care can come from surprising places … but an Adam Sandler movie?
“50 First Dates,” a 2004 vehicle for the comic-turned-actor whose oeuvre runs toward the silly side, revolved around the relationship between Sandler's character and a woman with a brain injury played by Drew Barrymore. Since Barrymore's character loses her memory every day, Sandler, as her suitor, uses videos to remind her about him.
The movie helped inspire an apparently unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, N.Y., aimed at helping victims of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness that can often cause them agitation.
For 94-year-old Louise Irving, who suffers from dementia, waking up every day to a video with a familiar face and a familiar voice seems to spark a flicker of recognition.
“Good morning, Mary Sunshine, how did you wake so soon?” Irving's daughter, Tamara Rusoff-Hoen, sings in a video playing from a laptop wheeled to her mother's nursing home bedside.
As the five-minute video plays, with stories of happy memories and get-togethers, Irving beams a bright smile before repeating the traditional family send-off. “Kiss, kiss ... I love you.”
“It was fluff, but it made me think, 'How could that translate to our residents with memory loss?' ” Charlotte Dell, director of social services at the home, told the Associated Press, explaining how the movie gave her the idea for the videos.
As in the movie, every day is a new day, and the video becomes part of the morning routine. Relatives who take part are urged to say good morning, use memory-triggering personal anecdotes and remind the residents that attendants will be helping them get dressed and ready for the day.