grandfather and grandchild using VR headsets

Learn about connecting through technology with seniors with dementia.

Imagine for a second how it might feel to navigate the cognitive complications of Alzheimer’s disease. The people you love most now seem unfamiliar. The words and phrases that would roll off your tongue without a second thought are now hard to find. In fact, the world as you once knew it has totally changed, leaving you longing for something familiar.

One of the kindnesses imparted by Alzheimer’s is the long-term memories that often still exist long after short-term memories have gone. It is why connecting seniors with dementia to the past is often a very effective way to engage them – through movies, music, photos, and reminiscing. We can now add a high-tech tool to the ways we can help seniors with dementia mentally engage with the past that demonstrates effective outcomes in those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease: virtual reality.

Skip Rizzo, director for medical virtual reality at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, has been utilizing the technology to assist veterans experiencing PTSD. He is now expanding his reach to seniors – starting with his own 89-year-old mother, whose delightful response to a virtual visit to Rome confirmed exactly how impactful the technology can be for seniors with dementia.

Rizzo shares an interaction in which he visited a senior living home where a group of residents were simply gathered around a table in silence, until he began showing them flashcard-like pictures of objects that might be familiar from their past. The shift in the room was amazing as the seniors with dementia began sharing memories with each other. With the ability of low-tech tools such as simple photographs to create delight for older adults, just imagine the possibilities available to us now with high-tech solutions like virtual reality!

The benefit of virtual reality for seniors goes further than just boosting memory and bringing enjoyment, including:

Increased Socialization

We realize that older adult isolation leads to a number of physical and mental health problems. A recent study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine announced that approximately one in four seniors are feeling socially isolated. To address this concern, AARP Innovation Labs has created an app called Alcove, in which older adults and their friends and family can enjoy virtual reality experiences together.

Improved Medical Care

The distraction of virtual reality is showing to be a great tool for relieving aging adults of physical pain. Additionally, it can be used to improve motor skills and balance as well as improve spatial reasoning. It can even help physicians detect health conditions by monitoring how older adults respond to different games and activities.

Want to explore creative care solutions in Atlanta and the surrounding areas to improve quality of life for a senior? Reach out to our home care team online or at 404-228-0103 to find out more about our services!