ORONO – Husson Women’s Head Basketball Coach, Kissy Walker, already has a tough schedule.
Between countless practices and games, she now has a mother living with Alzheimer’s.
“I leave here often thinking, I want to cry,” says Walker. “It’s been one of the hardest things to deal with because she’s always been so vibrant and energetic.”
She and her mother, Ellie, now a resident at Dirigo Pines in Orono, used to be able to talk on the phone just two years ago.
Her mother was also able to attend Kissy’s basketball games.
Since then, Ellie’s Alzheimer’s has set in, but the disease is not stopping Kissy from making the trip to the retirement home at least four to five times a week to share moments of laughter and joy with her mother.
“She can be bellowing out songs, laughing to videos,” says Kissy. “It’s just a little bit of comfort for the family.”
Using the new, “It’s Never 2 Late Technology” available at the home, she is thankful for the little bit of her mother’s old-self she and her can both experience together.
“Knowing that she’s got some happiness back in her,” she says. “She’s not just existing and there’s some life left in her.”
In addition to providing a way to trigger emotional responses in a patient, it also allows families an easier way to connect through emails and messages that go right to the device.
“It makes the family more engaged because it’s fun and makes them feel like they can be a part of the person’s life,” says Dr. Clifford Singer, MD at Acadia Hospital in Bangor.
Dr. Singer says until a cure for Alzheimer’s is found, technology like this can go a long way in buying time for families like Ellie’s, giving them peace of mind during an Alzheimer’s patient’s final years.
“They’re people we love, they’re people we care about, their well being, their quality of life, should matter to us,” he says.
Now, Kissy hopes more families will get to use programs like this when they’re faced with a loved one living with Alzheimer’s.
“This is a bonus having technology like this and you have to look at it as at least we have that,” she says.