Virtual reality is starting to become a useful tool when it comes to bringing positive change for most seniors. It helps to transport them from the nursing home to far away places without actually traveling to reducing loneliness. VR is really enhancing the lives of seniors all over the globe.
National Senior Citizen’s Day has recently passed and below are some companies that you should know about that are using virtual reality to make a difference to seniors.
Equality Lab created VR Genie and their mission is to use modern technology to help senior communities improve their quality of life and thrive.
The users are able to be at the bottom of the ocean floor, in outer space, or on tops of mountains. All of this is aimed to battle loneliness, depression and social isolation. There are studies that have shown that virtual reality can help people to deal with various mental health issues.
According to Aldrich Chan, University of Miami neuropsychologist and research associate, using meditation and guided imagery can help with cognition and more. It can also direct behavior and be helpful.
The aim of VR genie is to help grant final wishes of seniors which enables to remove experiences off of their bucket list like visiting the Eiffel Tower or the Northern Lights.
Based on the 2019 National Poll on Healthy Aging stated that one out of every three seniors often feel a lack of compassion, which states that millions of seniors inside of the United States feel lonely. Research went on to show that chronic loneliness can impact the memory, mental health, physical well-being, and life expectancy. There is even some research that has suggested the chronic loneliness can lower life expectancy more than smoking.
Over 50% of senior residents will experience isolation or depression during their stay. Rendever is working hard to overcome social isolation through virtual reality and shared experiences. In the last few years, Rendever has installed their VR platform within 100 senior living communities in the United States as well as Canada and has provided over 400,000 experiences.
Rendever is enabling seniors to visit childhood homes, wedding venue or places from their past, as a type of trip down memory lane guided by virtual reality. It also provides seniors with a way to feel as if they have left the community and has visited places that they have dreamed of. The platform is often used in group settings so that residents are able to share stories and create deeper connections with the staff and each other.
Kyle Rand, the CEO of Rendever stated that he witnessed the negative effects of social isolation on his grandmother. Whenever he saw seniors react to virtual reality, he knew it was something to get into and over the last few years he has poured his heart into a product that his grandmother would be very proud of.
MyndVR is out to start improving the lives of seniors and assisted living communities by introducing them to virtual reality while dealing with outdated healthcare practices.
The company has implemented this program into over 55 different living communities to allow seniors to experience all of the health benefits of virtual reality. This does include helping seniors to cope with cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s, while creating a meaningful experience without them leaving safety and comfort of their center while making sure that they have fun.
MyndVR is using a 360-degree camera view in order to capture experiences. For instance, they have musicians and actors dress up in 1950s clothing and playing Frank Sinatra. The user is able to experience the music as if they were in the front row and it feels as if they were transported into their memory or another time.
In April, MyndVR 2.0 was released with a partnership with Vive X from HTC, which is a VR accelerator. The previous versions of the MyndVR were only available using a mobile based headset. However, the Vive Focus from HTC is a standalone headset and it is able to provide immersive experiences for seniors.
Seniors who are getting end of life care are now able to experience some joy because of Viarama. Using Google Earth VR and HTC Vive headsets, people who are on hospice care or nursing homes are allowed to take journeys that they never thought that they would be able to. The company is allowing seniors to travel back to where and when they got married and where their national service was served.
Viarama CEO, Billy Agnew stated that he was amazed at how much seniors enjoyed the experience and how powerful it was. They had mountain climbers climbing Everest, and we have had artists who have dementia who can no longer do their life’s work, draw, sculpt and paint in VR. The first time that this was used in a hospice center, two doctors broke down because it was so emotional to see them experience what they loved again.
Inside of the United States it is recommended that seniors get over 150 minutes of exercise each week to be able to enhance the overall quality of life and then reduce any likelihood of accidents that are caused by frailty.
Even though there are exercise facilities in care communities, most seniors are not able to get their heart rates to the required level.
Often times seniors will end up just sitting and staring passively into the TV or look at a wall. They are not motivated to exercise, simply because moving again after long periods of not moving can cause pain and it is not that interesting to look at a wall while you are biking.
Virtual mountain landscapes that have trees, plants and birds to help simulate being outside can lead to a desire to use the exercise bikes. Studies are often being done and often times physical therapists will ask to use these experiences for future programs.