Technology and the Elderly: A Clinical Intervention Using My iPhone

Posted by Dr. El - March 14, 2012 - Anecdotes, Technology - 7 Comments

Ms. Williams was humming a tune as I rolled her wheelchair toward her room for our session.  “What’s that you’re singing?” I asked her.

“I’m not singing, I’m humming.  It’s a song I heard as a child.  I can’t remember the words.”  84-year old Ms. Williams had been worryingly depressed for several weeks, and our sessions tended to be a litany of complaints that were somehow never resolved despite the best efforts of the staff.

“Do you remember any of the words?” I asked.

“Something, something, they tell me of a home far away…”  She hummed a little.  “That’s all I remember.”

I pulled out my iPhone and entered “a home far away” in the YouTube search box.  Moments later I had the lyrics and music to her song.  I turned up the volume and held the small screen in front of her.  She hummed along, and smiled.  “Yes, that’s the one!  My father used to sing that to me.”  She began singing, and seemed content for the first time in months.  The song ended, and she beamed at me.  “I haven’t heard that in a long, long time.  Thank you!”

“My pleasure.”

“That’s a shame about Whitney Houston,” she remarked.  “Such talent, wasted.”  Then she told me for the first time about the alcoholism in her family, and the effect it had on her life.

Video: Unclouded Day