With a simple touch of a large computer screen, residents of Yankee Hill Village are enjoying extrasensory experiences covering a broad range of individual needs and interests.
From the Big Band melodies of the 1940s to church services for a wide variety of denominations, new technology called iN2L is bringing people together, connecting seniors with what interests and fulfills them. It also enables them to share conversations, experiences, learning and fun with each other, their caregivers and family members.
The new technology was rolled out in late August at Yankee Hill Village, an Immanuel community located at 8401 S. 33rd St. It is initially targeted to residents of the retirement community’s memory support area, said Melissa Ryan, executive director at Yankee Hill Village since 2018.
“IN2L is designed to appeal to our memory care area, to remind them of happy times and engage them in fond memories,” said Ryan. (IN2L stands for It’s Never Too Late.)
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Eventually, the enjoyment of the iN2L experiences will be demonstrated to residents of the 47 apartments in independent living and to those in the 59 apartments in assisted living. Overall, Yankee Hill Village is home to 128 residents.
“I call it the ‘Google Within’ … it’s so helpful, with good information and literally several thousand options to choose from,” said Life Enrichment Supervisor Beth Alberts, a 19-year employee of the retirement community (formerly Clark Jeary Retirement Community).
“Exercise, travelogues, games, puzzles, religion … you name it, and it provides an interactive experience,” said Alberts. Click on the “relax” box, for example, and one of the options to pop up is “aquarium.” Click on aquarium, run your fingers across the screen, and you’ll seemingly be immersed in bubbles and delighted by sound effects.
“Relaxation is something we all value, but it’s especially important among residents in the memory support community,” said Alberts.
Music is another popular option selected among iN2L participants. Through the technology, karaoke sing-alongs have become quite a hit. “This will play musical selections that often remind residents of a special time in their lives,” said Alberts. “This technology provides meaningful engagement that leads to happier, healthier lives.”
Residents’ families can also reap the benefits of the new technology through video chats, messaging, and being able to observe their loved ones having a good time.
All staff trained
All 83 employees at Yankee Hill Village received training to help residents enjoy the experience. The arrival of iN2L has been a welcome addition, easing the transition after lifestyle restrictions created by the coronavirus pandemic, said Life Enrichment Coordinator Kathy Nannen, a 32-year veteran of caregiving in the memory care community.
“This identifies individual interests and has helped so much after the challenges presented by COVID-19,” said Nannen. “The interactive games are especially a welcome relief in the late-afternoon hours, when confusion and anxiety become more commonplace in the memory care community.”