February 19, 2014
Story by Kerri Robins; Photo courtesy of Linda Ames
A good movie can positively stimulate the senses. It’s entertainment that can be therapy, too.
“A movie brings people together and I wanted to create that family-type atmosphere for the residents,” says Barb Gallagher, whose 86-year-old mother, Mildred Morse, and her 83-year-old aunt, Mable Hathaway (Morse’s sister), reside at the Drumheller Health Centre on the continuing care unit.
So Gallagher went to work raising funds through the Drumheller Area Health Foundation to purchase the MovieMate, a portable projector DVD and music player for the health centre’s sensory stimulation program in the recreation therapy department.
“The MovieMate is a great way to arouse audio and visual senses and it’s easy to use,” says Lisa Orton, recreation therapist at the health centre.
“We show movies like nature documentary Planet Earth to our lower-functioning residents, for example, those suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or stroke, to encourage communication in various ways.”
Morse has dementia and it’s been saddening over the years for Gallagher to watch her mother’s health decline.
“Mom was a busy lady, so watching her slowly deteriorate is hard,” says Gallagher.
Gallagher received donations from the Rosedale Fire Hall and the local Co-op, and about $1,100 later, the hospital had a MovieMate projector courtesy of the foundation.
The goal of the sensory stimulation program is to promote better quality of life for residents. For example, triggers like an arm reaching out, tapping feet, eye contact or simply a smile are communications signalling that residents are stimulated and aware of certain surroundings.
“The MovieMate gives residents another way to communicate and helps family members see the person they knew is still in there somewhere,” says Jennifer Lahey, recreation therapist at Foothills Hospital. Until recently, Lahey was part of recreation therapy at the Drumheller centre.
The Drumheller Area Health Foundation is an advocate of the program and Chair Boris Nahornick is pleased with community support.
“It really is the circle of life,” says Nahornick. “Community members donate to the foundation for hospital equipment and, in some cases, those same members end up benefiting from the equipment they contributed to buying.”
For information visit Drumheller Area Health Foundation.