By now, you’ve likely heard the term “virtual reality” (or VR for short), but if you haven’t experienced it yourself, it may be difficult to understand. Virtual reality incorporates the use of goggles, which display an image or video that appears to be real. Users can choose to move and look around, just like they were at the destination, enjoying the sights and sounds in a fully immersive 3D experience.
At Maplewood Senior Living, we use this technology across our communities and have seen great benefits for all our residents, especially those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The Rendever platform was designed specifically for the senior population and invites them to recall familiar times by visiting virtual places or allows residents to experience new adventures.
One of the positive ways our residents use VR is by “going home.” Familiar places and images of the past have long been used in reminiscence therapy. The concept of reminiscence therapy is that dementia locks memories deep inside of the brain, and by looking at those memories through photos, they can be sparked. This can help bring them alive and often has a calming effect for the individual. As we focus on memory care at Maplewood Senior Living, we are investing in this technology, combining the principles of reminiscence therapy with the power of VR. The happiness our residents experience when they walk down their old hometown streets, or even through their childhood home, is extremely uplifting and is improving their memory care outcomes.
Gina Saunders, Corporate Director of Memory Care and Programming, for Maplewood Senior Living recalls this story from one of our Memory Care Directors:
Using Rendever is a mind-blowing and emotionally exhilarating experience. It is a wonder to see residents respond and ask about what they are seeing. One session, I chose to take them to the oldest salt mines in the world. I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I would get from the group, but as soon as we landed into our virtual reality, one resident exclaimed, “Are we in the right place, it looks like a palace?” And thus began our journey through the historic salt mines. As we journeyed from one room to another, a flurry of questions started and they wanted to know all the particulars, they began to guide each other, shouting to the group, “Look behind you, do you see that?” What might seem like a few slides in VR to some, became a virtual adventure, as though we had been dropped into a show from the History channel and we were the investigators. Guiding seniors through this experience was fun, enlightening and a complete blast for them and for me. Rendever is now a part of our life at Strawberry Hill. – Christina Outlaw, Memory Care Director, Maplewood at Strawberry Hill
Julie Sabo, Memory Care Director, at Maplewood at Twinsburg, shared:
Residents using the VR programming will often talk for quite some time following the actual VR session. Long-term memories are tapped almost every session. It is so exciting to see the residents light up as they recall a trip they once took to a destination, or a story they tell about a childhood friend that took place in a familiar home town setting.
Virtual Reality programming has allowed residents the opportunity to:
- Connect with family members across the country
- Travel to far off places, often times re-living previous experiences
- Benefit from the therapeutic effects of pet therapy
- Engage in lively, social dialogue among other residents following their VR experiences
Whether residents connect with memories, family, pets or each other, we’re seeing positive results and are eager to continue our commitment to offering the best experiences and engaging programs at Maplewood Senior Living.
Brian Geyser, VP of Clinical Innovation & Population Health, Maplewood Senior Living, illustrates how the VR platform has positively impacted our residents. Learn more about this here.