BikeAround: Helping Seniors in Retirement Homes to Revisit Old Memories

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Taking a trip down the memory lane has never sounded more accurate than now to residents of retirement homes in Canada. It’s all thanks to a great project and a thoughtful man.

It’s called BikeAround, which consists of a stationary bicycle, a giant dome-shaped screen that projects images from Google Street View. The system was developed in Sweden, as a means to help seniors that suffer from dementia or have memory loss.

This way, the seniors can exercise their minds and also their bodies, because they can use the pedals of the bicycle. What started as a way of sparking conversation among patients with Alzheimer’s and their family members, ended being a great success.

Helping The Seniors Remember

So, in Canada, George Fermanis who works in tech for aging industry, watched the video on the BikeAround system and bought two units, each at a value of $20,000.

George Fermanis wanted to use these units in the retirement houses. He said that they “wanted to find a more meaningful way to help them and to preserve old memories and help bring them back.”

And because their residents don’t leave the premises, feeling safer in their Retirement Residence, BikeAround was a way of ‘getting out’ and exploring distant locations.

Some of the residents use the system to visit old places where they grew up, while others want to check out places where people go on vacations.

At the Carriage House Retirement Residence in Oshawa, Ontario, there is one BikeAround system that became extremely cherished by the residents. Doug Brunton is 78-years old and he used the bike to ride back to his old neighborhood and see how it changed in time. As he ‘biked’ around his street, he said:

“This is incredible, I can’t believe this.”

Two of the residents that fell in love at the retirement home, Yvette and Howard Thornton, tried the system and showed each other the places where they grew. Now Yvette said that she would like to visit Switzerland using the bike.

The mood in the retirement residence has positively changed, said Gerry Platt, the residence’s general manager. He also said that the seniors started coming back with addresses they remembered they wanted to see.

It might not be the cure for dementia or for Alzheimer’s, but it helps in bringing up long-forgotten memories.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere