Community Corner: AHAVA Memory Care Center of Excellence

AHAVA Memory Care Center of Excellence was one of eight communities selected to participate in the PEER (Purposeful Engagement for Every Resident) program, an NIH/NIA-funded study run by Hopeful Aging, that ran from mid-2022 to mid-2023. The goal was to develop and evaluate a software app that enabled people with memory issues to lead activities for their peers. It was exciting to see residents taking part in this new programming and leading groups of their friends in these activities. The program was so engaging that our AHAVA Team continues to use it with our residents on an ongoing basis, even though the study has ended.

Some of the immediate outcomes we observed in our residents were physical changes such as more verbal engagement and increased eye contact with peers. We also noticed that residents’ overall mood improved and they experienced less anxiety or restlessness while participating in the program. These improvements were not limited to the time they engaged with the app– these impacts often lasted throughout the day. After participating in a session, residents had a bigger appetite, were more relaxed during care, were better able to communicate with caregivers, and interacted more with their peers. We are happy to have been a part of this study and are excited to continue using the program.

The next study we will participate in, which will also be conducted by Hopeful Aging, will create an app that gamifies the process of collecting the information about a person’s background, preferences, and interests a facility needs when someone moves into long-term care. Our residents will test this app by sitting with a family member or staff member to play the game. The information collected during the initial game will be converted into additional games for everyone in the community to participate in together. Of course, all participants and family members will need to provide their consent before participating in the study, which we anticipate beginning in spring 2024.

-Nicole Morgan, PCHA

Executive Director, AHAVA Memory Care Center of Excellence