WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Social isolation can be a serious problem for residents of senior living facilities. One way a local assisted living center is addressing that is through virtual reality or VR technology.
Marian is about to leave the dementia unit Whispering Hope at Allied Service’s, Meade Street Residence without setting foot outside the facility.
A fellow resident named Sadie is on the same safari. Sadie said she has never seen anything so beautiful.
The women are using Rendever, a cutting-edge virtual technology system. It’s equipped with individual headsets that produce video and surround sound. The system can take them just about anywhere, virtually, and without motion sickness, which VR can sometimes cause.
“The Rendever Experience is targeted at the elderly population so it’s not so overwhelming to all of the senses,” explained Caitlin Bailey, skilled nursing operations administrator, Allied Services.
Some of the virtual visits these residents can take with Rendever include the farm or the beach, a concert or an exotic city, or even places where these dementia unit residents once lived.
“A lot of times people with dementia will revert back to their childhood and they can say things like ‘I grew up in Idaho. And we have the ability to take them to the street they grew up on. They can walk down their street and they can even tell us that was my bus stop or that was where my homestead was,” said Caitlin Bailey.
For facilities like this, music has often been the go-to to help residents reminisce. But this new VR technology with its images and sound help spark memories and create new ones.
Bailey says providing this form of reminiscing therapy allows residents to interact and open up within their element, and not feel the unfamiliar feeling you might expect at a secured dementia unit.
“You’re there. You’re not in whispering hope anymore,” Bailey said.
Allied Services has had the Rendever VR System for about two months.
Head to Allied Service’s website to learn more about it, and living opportunities at Allied Services Meade Street Residence.