Practically everyone uses a smartphone or tablet these days. To support our fast paced lives, Americans are downloading mobile apps to help track everything from our personal spending to our diet, exercise and mood. Mobile devices can help facilitate better health in new, more convenient ways than ever before.
According to the online health care education portal AlliedHealthWorld.com, there are currently about 40,000 mobile health apps available for tablets and smartphones and more than 500 health projects worldwide that have a mobile emphasis. Seeing as more than 50 million Americans care for an aging or disabled loved one, according to a study by National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, it should come as no surprise that apps for caregivers are a fast-growing market.
With funding from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, CJE SeniorLife recently collaborated with The Art Institute of Chicago to create a free, engaging iPad app designed to foster interaction and conversation with older loved ones with cognitive disabilities. The act of observing, talking about and creating art is an alternative way for older adults with dementia to communicate and reflect on their life experiences, and to be actively and fully engaged in the present moment with loved ones and caregivers.
The newly released Art in the Moment app is based on CJE’s successful community program developed in tandem with The Art Institute of Chicago. This unique program in Chicago, modeled after The Museum of Modern Art’s Alzheimer’s Project “Meet Me at MoMA,” is designed to provide caregivers a creative way to spark dialogue and nurture positive interactions with older adults who have early to mid-stage dementia. Participants of Chicago’s Art in the Moment program visit The Art Institute of Chicago museum galleries to view and discuss renowned works of art and then engage in related art-making projects.
Similarly, the app utilizes an assortment of art work from The Art Institute of Chicago’s collection, which were carefully curated for the app and arranged for users to explore through themes, or modules. It poses questions to facilitate discussion while viewing works of art, and a related art-making activity is encouraged through each module. For example, through the “Celebrations” module, app users can explore how various celebrations have been depicted in art—from elaborate festivities to public gatherings to spontaneous, private celebrations. This reminds viewers of the many opportunities we have to applaud life as we live it. Other themes, such as “Rhythm and Art,” “Modern Portraits,” “The Wonder Years,” “Jewish Artists,” and “American Environment” will introduce users to new works of art as new modules are rolled out over time.
The free Art in the Moment app is a culturally enriching way for family members and friends to engage with older loved ones with cognitive impairment. For more information or to download the app for your iPad, visit ArtintheMoment.org. A web-based application for those who do not own an iPad is also now available through the website to view the program on a desktop computer as well.
How have your experiences with mobile apps been helpful to your own health or role as a caregiver? Please leave a comment below! For more resources for family caregivers, visit our website at www.YourEldercareConsultants.com.
Coming next month: As you’ve watched your parents get older, perhaps you have struggled with situations that have caused you to be concerned about your parent’s welfare. It may be time to consider a move to a safer environment. Open and honest discussion with your parent and other family members is an essential first step. In our next post, we’ll cover issues to consider before making the important and challenging decisions regarding the relocation process.