Assisted living residents getting techy

Sharon Ellis

They have learned how to download apps, so we have been learning how to go on YouTube to watch videos, learning to Facetime, searching for places on Google Earth and playing all sorts of games.”
Sharon Ellis


HANCEVILLE – Big things going on at Brookdale Hanceville these days. Not only are they participating in all the wonderful activities the assisted living facility has to offer, but they are also using state-of-the-art technology in ways that allow them to visit their families, travel the world and learn new things- all from the comforts of home.

“Our residents have been working on a program called ‘Know your Brain’ which we began in the spring,” said Sharon Ellis, Brookdale Hanceville’s activities director. “The program has four parts to it, Know Your Brain, Flex Your Brain, Grow Your Brain and Boost Your Brain. The program has lots of DVDs with useful information in them and we have workbooks that we work out of, too.  We also have continuing brain games that we play, because we learned that the brain does not know how old it is and the brain cells can always be regenerated. So no matter how old you are, there are always things you can do to rebuild your brain,” she smiled.

The Know Your Brain Class is a component of Brookdale’s Brain Health programs. It is to educate the residents about their brains and the lifestyle factors that contribute to brain health. It is designed to help them in their pursuit of living well by encouraging them to make their own brain health program.

The class content is delivered through a video series that features Dr. Paul Nussbaum, a neurophysiologist and author of the book, “Save Your Brain.” The videos are coupled with ideas for interactive exercises that help to illustrate the video content, which leads to another exciting program at the facility.

“Brookdale, across the board, is training everyone with iPads,” she continued. “So not only do we have the brain games and all that, but we also have the iPads where we do two iPad Exploration sessions a week. We also have a Resident Technology Committee that meets once a month.

“The residents have learned how to download apps, so we have been learning how to go on YouTube to watch videos, learning to Facetime, searching for places on Google Earth and playing all sorts of games.”

Mrs. Rebecca Willoughby is a resident at Brookdale Hanceville. She is also the iPad Whiz Kid of the community. She is forever taking pictures and videos of the activities going on at the facility, then uploading them to Brookdale’s website so the other facilities across the southeast can see what’s happening in Hanceville.

“So far, I have really enjoyed Google Earth and finding new apps that are informative,” said Willoughby, “not all that silly stuff that’s out there,” she grinned. “It has really been fun.”

The facility also has an Apple TV where the residents can hook their iPads up and play games together, go on Pinterest and search for new arts and crafts projects and have all sorts of fun. The group recently learned how to do the alphabet in sign language. Now that that has been mastered, they are learning to sign along with the song, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” from the Broadway musical, “Oklahoma!”

The iPads have really taken off with the residents. Every day they learn something new and every day there is something happy and positive as a result.

“This morning I hardly got in the building when one of our residents met me in the lobby,” Ellis chuckled. “Yesterday was her 90th birthday and she facetimed with her family up north. She said ‘if the iPads aren’t worth anything else, they are worth that.’ She was just beaming! In the beginning she kept saying she couldn’t do it, couldn’t figure out an iPad, and she did!”

Learning new things is good for everyone, but for the residents at Brookdale Hanceville it has been a blast. You are never too old to learn something new. For more information about Brookdale Hanceville, call 256-352-3141 or visit them at 105 Michelle St. NW, Hanceville, AL 35077.


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