School of Education and Human Development

USM Student Helps Seniors with Alzheimer's

Student hugging smiling man in care facility.

Kacey Foerster, a member of the class of 2021 at the University, is taking time to help some special seniors in her community.  For years, Foerster would visit her grandfather, who was suffering from Alheimer’s disease, at a local memory-care facility.  Foerster would read picture books to her grandfather to entertain him and help pass the time.  During his stay there Foerster got to know and care for some of his friends, as well as other residents of the community who were also suffering from the same disease.  Sadly, Foerster’s grandfather passed away in the fall of 2018, but a seed had been planted in Foerster around the effect of reading on patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.  In the early stages of the pandemic, Foerster started reading to other memory-care residents through Zoom.  The word spread throughout the facility and more and more residents were interested in this activity that created so much joy amongst the community.  In fact, the memory-care facility has now asked that she read via Zoom for a larger group of seniors.  

“My grandfather began struggling with his communication, but something that always brought us together was reading. Even though he couldn’t form sentences on his own he was still able to read aloud which always amazed me. My Grampy’s passion for reading drove my curiosity about the relationship between reading and those with memory loss, which is the inspiration behind my Zoom and YouTube readings that take place today.”

Interested in the correlation between Alzheimer’s and reading ability, Foerster has begun the process of securing the funding to research the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and reading.  She has recently been selected to participate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), a research fellowship at the University, and is preparing her submission for the Independent Review Board (IRB) for at least two memory care facilities.  The IRB is necessary to ensure that Foerster’s research is ethical and humane.

Foerster is a Scarborough native and an English major pursuing her K-8 teacher education at the University.