By Danielle Woodruffe
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau lives in California. Her mom, Arlene Patrick is a resident at Parker at River Road in Highland Park. Yet every Thursday they have a standing appointment to see each other and they rarely miss it.
“I put the iPad on Arlene’s lap and she looks at me and gets very excited. You can see it in her eyes,” remarks Tara Salerno, Parker Recreation Coordinator. “It takes her a few moments for Arlene to warm up to the technology, but once she does, it’s like Colleen is in the room with us.”
Their conversations happen with the help of technology. What started as a simple sharing of videos evolved to Skype and later Facetime.
It all began when Colleen wanted to send her mom videos to stay in touch. Recreation staff at Parker at River Road realized the amazing impact the videos made on Arlene and suggested a weekly video chat.
“I didn’t imagine it would be possible because it would take human resources,” Colleen says. “One of my concerns was that it would only be a couple times and then it would be a novelty, but Parker has worked so hard to schedule this regularly. I don’t think that’s really common.”
Arlene cannot speak after having a stroke. Salerno helps prompt her so she can stay engaged as much as possible. She listens as her daughter displays old photos of her and baby images, pans around her California garden, shows her the cats and even sings songs.
“Of course it can be challenging to talk to someone who can’t talk back, but she expresses herself really well,” says Colleen. “Her facial expressions are very animated, so I can always tell how she’s responding and what her mood is.”
Salerno notices a big difference in Arlene’s emotional and mental state after the calls.
“She is so happy. She perks up and has a really good rest of her day,” Salerno proudly adds. “I think she identifies me with these calls. She associates me with the fact that I help her speak to her daughter.”
Arlene still lives what Parker calls a #WithIt life. Finding love at the age of 72, Arlene’s boyfriend lives in New Jersey, which is why she is not in California with her daughter.
The weekly video chat is a reminder to Colleen that her mom is well taken care of.
“It’s the best possible situation it can be considering that I’m 3000 miles away,” Colleen explains. “Bringing her to Parker was one of the best decisions we made.”