Shortly after moving into a dementia care home last year, Jeannette Williams discovered the iPad.
After losing her husband, her home, and much of her freedom, the touch-screen tablet has given Mrs. Williams a new lease of life.
After being diagnosed with dementia in 2010, she moved into care last April. At first, she was stuck in front of the television for hours on end, but now she can now read the news, listen to music, watch videos, and play games. Best of all, the tablet has rekindled her passion for pottery.
“I like making pots. They had a potter’s wheel at my art college,” Mrs Williams told The Telegraph. Her room is decorated with printouts of the virtual vases she has made with the Let’s Create Pottery app.
Mrs. Williams was initially introduced to the iPad by Alive!, an organization that provides stimulating activities for older people. Fortunately, she and her fellow residents at the Willows Dementia Care Home at Sand Bay, near Weston-super-Mare, have Wi-Fi Internet access.
But, more than eight out of 10 U.K. care homes are still not equipped with the Internet, according to a recent study by CareHome.co.uk. Even fewer offer Wi-Fi, which is generally needed to use an iPad.
Tim Lloyd-Yeates, who founded the Bristol-based charity Alive! four years ago, believes care homes should be required by law to meet quality-of-life standards, not just standards of treatment, staffing, safety and management.
Prof Dominic Upton, director of health psychology research at the University of Worcester, conducted a study in 2011 on the quality of life for people with dementia in 11 care homes, which found that tablets helped residents reminisce about positive times in their lives, and build better relationships with staff.
One of the most heartening findings was the way in which the technology bridged the age gap.
“I was surprised by how much the iPads enhanced interaction between residents and their carers, many of whom were young and inexperienced,” Prof Upton told The Telegraph. “Also, grandchildren would come to visit and say, ‘This is how BBC iPlayer works’ or they would explore YouTube together.”