Dealing with memory loss is difficult enough. Add in the isolation caused by COVID-19 and the impact is even more devastating. In response, Vicky Hart, a recreational specialist, focused on dementia and the elderly, formed an innovative, breakthrough program. — A Gathering of MInds is an interactive, online program designed to provide cognitive support and social engagement to individuals in the early stages of memory loss.
Hart’s passion for working with memory loss patients stems from her father’s dementia experience. As her father’s memory loss progressed, Hart utilized a variety of skills and modalities to connect with him and provide meaningful engagement throughout the years of his illness. She found that despite his disease's progress, she was able to help her father access memories, language abilities, and emotional responses that on the surface appeared to have been lost.
This powerful experience led Hart to a career change. She enrolled in Temple University’s Masters Program in Recreational Therapy, with a concentration in dementia and the elderly. By March 2019, Hart had developed an innovative and successful on-site program for people in the early stages of memory loss. The realities of COVID-19 motivated Hart to reconfigure her existing program to an online format that creates an engaging environment and continues the process of community-building. A Gathering of Minds supplies intellectual stimulation and social connection for its members as well as respite for caregivers through the evidence-based practices of Recreational Therapy. The programming changes daily and supports the intellectual needs of highly educated people who have lived full and interesting lives. Topics range from current and cultural events, arts, architecture, ecology, music, science, etc. Discussions are lively, informative, and fun, and moderated by the group facilitator.
Hart believes the success of the new program opens the door to eliminating the isolation of individuals with memory loss even after the pandemic abates. “We’ve found a perfect way to reach people regardless of where they are without the hassle of transportation or logistics,” said Hart. “All that’s needed in an internet connection.”
While Hart does not negate the importance of face-to-face contact, she does feel A Gathering of Minds fills a gap now due to COVID-19, and will continue to be valuable in the future. “Any environment that intrigues, enlivens, and reconnects people with their authentic selves and others is important to those battling memory loss,” said Hart. “In this context, especially, more minds are better than one.”
For more information on A Gathering of Minds, go to www.agatheringofminds.com or call (484) 964-5124.
Release ID: 88984977