Google made waves when it introduced relatively inexpensive virtual reality headsets and programs. The first users were young gamers but now scientists are investigating the possibilities offered by bringing VR to the elderly.
Virtual Reality, or VR, is a technology that immerses the user into a real or an imagined environment so completely that they can interact with it. It uses a headset and a player that feeds the programming into the unit. Wearing the headset, for instance, you might plummet down a steep grade on a roller coaster or lie beside a tranquil ocean while gulls dance overhead.
VR is being used to help elderly patients regain balance or overcome fears by exposing them to safe stimuli a little at a time. The technology also allows those with dementia to visit rooms and people they are beginning to forget. Experiments showed that the pain level of burn patients diminished when they entered an icy VR environment, and also lowered when they “visited” tranquil spots where they could relax. Completely involved in the experience, they seem to forget pain and anxiety the same way dental patients overcome their fear and pain by wearing music headsets.
In fact, there are more than 100 studies that show the effectiveness of virtual reality in combatting fear, depression and pain. Dementia patients often have all three of these conditions. The programs use pleasant sights and sounds to encourage some with cognitive disabilities to take their medicines regularly. Special versions of VR are made for seniors with a higher level of confusion that are simpler and that feature soothing environments with which they can connect.
Otherwise healthy seniors can escape the boredom of being homebound traveling to exciting places while seated in their recliners. VR can also test the driving ability of the elderly without putting them into a car, thereby allowing some to get their licenses and remain independent longer. Science is only beginning to see all the possibilities of using VR to help the elderly.
At Caring Senior Service, our expert staff is comprised of extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and trusted professionals who take pride in helping your loved one manage their daily activities. Contact us today to learn more!