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Ball State professor uses technology to 'visit' nursing home residents

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Posted at 4:23 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 14:54:24-04

MUNCIE — A Ball State University professor is using technology to bring virtual visits to Muncie nursing home residents.

Mike Gerhard, an associate professor of telecommunications, created a website to continue the work of the Music & Memory program.

Through the website, Gerhard’s students share words of encouragement and sing the following songs to residents at Bethel Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center:

  • “Jesus Loves Me”
  • “Amazing Grace”
  • “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”
  • “You Are My Sunshine”
  • “This Little Light of Mine”

At the nursing home, an employee will take a tablet to each room to show the residents a video or two.

“The idea of video visits came to me earlier this month about the time Ball State was arranging for remote work and study,” he said. “It occurred to me that we could still visit the residents via e-communication – even though it would be indirect or vicarious. I also wanted to give my TCOM 101 students a chance to do something positive to help others during the pandemic. So, I offered them extra credit to create short videos. Service to others is always a great idea, but volunteering is especially important during a national emergency.“

Gerhard’s class is affiliated with Music & Memory, a nonprofit organization that provides personalized music into the lives of the elderly, especially to those suffering from dementia.

“We believe that personalized digital music can greatly enhance the quality of life for many nursing home residents, especially those with cognitive disorders,” he said. “We also strive to build awareness for our cause and engage in effective fundraising.”

To watch the videos, go to http://www.drmikegerhard.com/visits.htm.