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When Passavant Community resident Betty Gee was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five years ago, her doctor told her that eventually she may lose the ability to speak due to changes in her brain – and they were right.
Today, Gee’s voice is barely a whisper, making it difficult to have conversations with her family and friends, and to communicate her needs to her caretakers.
“It’s very frustrating when people can’t understand what I’m saying,” Gee said.
“We would literally have to put our ear right next to her mouth to be able to hear her,” said Carrie Henderson, household coordinator in the Abundant Life Center and one of Gee’s caretakers. “It was very tough for her,” Henderson said, “and I wanted to find a way to help her.”
At the SilverSmartTM Technology Center at Passavant Community, Henderson found a voice amplifier – a small headset device with a microphone that projects sound, making even the softest voices sound much louder.
“I liked it right away!” Gee said. “It helps me talk to my friends when we’re in the dining room,” she said, which had become nearly impossible. She began socializing more and in fact, led others in the dining room in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of the staff members recently.
Gee said that she is far less frustrated now when she speaks. “When I don’t have it on and I am talking to someone, I sometimes try to use my hands to help show what I want, but that’s just no good. Now people can hear everything I say.”