VR Genie is one of the projects of the NGO Equality Lab, this initiative seeks through virtual reality to fulfill the dreams of older adults and allow them to go to the place that is on their bucket list.
This program, funded by Miami-Dade County, is bringing VR helmets to nursing homes as part of an experimental treatment for depression and isolation in the elderly.
One of the beneficiaries of the initiative is 78-year-old Nidia Silva, a Cuban who left her country and said she was very excited to have seen the sea of Cuba.
In addition, he added as he took off his virtual reality goggles:
“You live in a world that you don’t know, but it’s very nice and very important for me to know.”
Going out to see the world, one of the most difficult dreams for seniors to fulfill
Alexandra Ivanovitch, who holds a doctorate in humanities and is the project leader, comments:
“We actually seek to reconnect them with the world. Many seniors don’t have the physical or financial ability to go out and see the world. We basically bring the world to them.”
In addition, neuropsychologist Aldrich Chan, a researcher at the University of Miami who is also part of the team that is making it possible to fulfill the dreams of the elderly, says:
“We know that things like guided imagery and meditation can be very beneficial for cognitive functions. And we also know that behavioral interventions can be very beneficial for individuals.”
Much to be done in this field
On the other hand, a team at the University of California, Los Angeles is studying the use of virtual reality to treat a symptom of depression known as anhedonia. This basically consists of the inability to feel pleasure or interest in some or many activities of daily life.
For this reason, psychiatric researcher Michelle Craske, states that what needs to be done is to give patients positive experiences, such as those produced by virtual reality.
In addition, Craske adds:
“Most treatments, so far, have done a decent job of reducing negative symptoms, but a very poor job of helping patients become more positive.”
Finally, VR Genie has significantly helped many seniors at this location in Miami, for example, Silva was able to fulfill one of his dreams: to see the sea of his native country and he says:
“It transports you to another world, it calms you down, it’s so nice!”
It’s so great that new technologies are being used for people’s well-being that we’re waiting to see what new things they’re going to surprise us with!
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