If the title of this post sounds familiar, that’s because the idea is borrowed from the 2004 hit movie 50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.
In case you haven’t seen the movie, Adam Sandler tries to woo Drew Barrymore. The only problem is, she has a brain injury that causes her to lose short-term memories every day. Therefore, Sandler’s character is constantly staging first-time meet ups and dates. At the end of the movie, Sandler eventually creates a quick video for Barrymore to play when she wakes up every morning. The videos serve as a reminder of what’s happened in her life and helps her stay calm.
The Hebrew Home at Riverdale in New York decided to adopt the idea and adapt it to its patients who suffer from memory loss. The program is still in its infancy, but it’s already showing some promising results.
Every morning, patients like 94-year-old Louise Irving wake up to a video with a familiar name and voice.
“Good morning, merry sunshine, how did you wake so soon?” Irving’s daughter sings in a video playing on a laptop next to her mother’s bedside.
Each patient’s video is recorded by a family member who wishes their loved one good morning, tells memory-triggering personal anecdotes and reminds them that an attendant will soon arrive to help them get dressed and ready for the day.
“We’re looking to see if we can set a positive tone for the day without using drugs,” Charlotte Dell, director of social services at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale said in an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle. “What better way to start the day than to see the face and hear the voice of someone you love wishing you a wonderful morning?”
The program is currently limited to residents who are in the early to moderate stages of dementia, and who are known to be difficult in the morning, oftentimes refusing care.
The videos help remind patients where they are and reassures them that they are safe and loved. This can significantly reduce some of the fear and anxiety that comes from waking up in an unfamiliar place away from family.
In another video, recorded by Irving’s son-in-law, he reminds her “I know where you are. I will always find you,” because she has said she is often nervous about being lost.
While Alzheimer’s experts say the program is “innovative and thoughtful,” they caution that Alzheimer’s patients vary widely, and what may work for one patient may not work for another.
Overall though, feedback from The Hebrew Home at Riverdale has been positive, and the nursing home plans to expand the program to its other residents with dementia soon.