Virtual reality therapy for people with dementia

Posted on: June 10th, 2022 by Mark R. Friedman

There was an interesting article in the New York Times today about how some long term care facilities are using virtual reality headsets to help some dementia patients.

As an example, they profiled an older gentleman with dementia in a facility in Ohio. He was mostly listless when he came in, sitting alone in his room and staring at the wall for hours. His family said he loved to travel when he was younger, and particularly loved Ireland where his family had roots. So the staff put a virtual headset on him and gave him a virtual tour of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. He snapped right out of his dementia and became excited and engaged, at least temporarily.

There is a lot of potential in these new technologies.  Virtual reality might seem a little out there, but it has the potential to help a lot of people.  And I’ve seen more established technologies like ride sharing (e.g., Uber and Lyft) and grocery delivery help people stay independent in their homes for longer.  As technology progresses, I’m hopeful that things like robot assistants can help even more people stay independent at home, rather than needing to move into care facilities.  It sounds like science fiction, but a lot of well-funded companies are working on prototype caregivers.

I’m excited to see what the future will bring, and that new technologies are being used in surprising ways to make life better for people.

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