Residents Learn Sign Language for Health & Happiness
A New Kind of Nexus Activity
The research speaks for itself – learning new skills and keeping the brain active are among the tools with the best chance of slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. The Nexus at Silverado program, which is offered at every Silverado community, is comprised of activities based in these findings. While most Nexus activities are standard throughout the 31 Silverado communities, locations are free to develop their own activities. One of the most unique is the American Sign Language (ASL) program at Silverado Aspen Park, which was recently featured on the local news!
The activity’s origins lie with Administrator John "Alec" Stephenson, who used the skills he learned from raising a son with a hearing impairment, to engage residents during a power outage. This one-off occurrence was so popular that it evolved into a regular part of Nexus programming at the community.
Now residents meet to learn sign language every Thursday morning at 10:30. The hour-long class in which they participate is based on the American Sign Language University program. Alec leads the class, assisted by resident Beverly Reed, who learned sign language as a child being raised by deaf parents.
"Some of the residents are retaining what they've learned, but the primary goal is to engage their minds, improve motor skills and enhance quality of life, which is a core philosophy of Silverado," said Alec. "This is the only sign language program of its kind in a memory care community in not only Utah, but most likely the entire country."
This program recently caught the attention of local news media in Salt Lake City, who stopped by to film the class in action and speak to some of the participants.