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Virtual reality becomes therapy for seniors

VR for seniors

Allied Services uses Rendever virtual reality technology to provide a new form of "reminiscing therapy" to patients with dementia

VR For Seniors PKG.mp4

Mary Pick is looking at her home in Plymouth without leaving her nursing home.

“That is gorgeous to see that," she said. Oh my God I’m so surprised. Oh my goodness. Wait until I tell Linda.”

Using virtual reality, she can go anywhere and bring her friends along.

“Those must be two different trucks because I don’t remember that one over there, unless that’s my son’s truck," Pick said. "And my swing is still there so this is before my house was up for sale.”

Allied Services Meade Street Skilled Nursing in Wilkes-Barre instituted Rendever virtual reality technology in the spring.

“It’s basically like utilizing something similar to Google Maps, that we can just go there and walk up and down the street," said Caitlin Bailey, who is the assistant administrator of skilled nursing at Allied. "Or, if they want to do something that they’ve never done before, if their dream was to go to the Eiffel Tower we can just put it in and say, ‘Let’s go to the Eiffel Tower!’ and they experience it, they put the headset on and they can look up at the tower, they can look down, and they can take in all the sounds going on around them.”

“Lucky us. Hey, do you realize how lucky we are girls?”

Rendever is made specifically for people with dementia, and the experience is called reminiscing therapy. Caitlin Bailey, the Assistant Administrator of Skilled Nursing at Allied, says this helps patients communicate better.

“It kind of stimulates a different part of their brain that they’re familiar with, and they’re able to say, ‘Hey I know that place, I love that place,’" Bailey said. "If they went to a lake when they were younger, we can take them to a lake and that’s something that’s familiar to them.”

The staff uses a tablet to transport the patients. It includes environments to choose from that can create a calm or exciting experience.

“The whole thing, it just took you away, you know. It was fun," said Patricia Hoovler, 72.

After Paris, these ladies were on a farm.

“I can’t believe it," Pick said. And all those animals that were running towards me, oh God I really thought they were going to run me over.”

And that proved to be one of the more exciting excursions.

“Oh my goodness. They just kept running up that hill," said Dorothy Krugel, 80.

She was startled by the animals, but she really enjoyed the grocery store.

“Oh look at this now! I don’t have my list but I know I need some sweet potatoes.”

Virtual reality is another effort to diminish social isolation, but it also provides a shared experience.

“I feel like I’ve been there. And I love to travel, so that was fun," said Hoovler.

“I’ve never traveled that far. The farthest I’ve been is up to New York state and Canada," Pick said.

Dorothy’s favorite place to see was her house in Georgetown.

“I just wanted to take the car and go for a drive. We haven’t been with the cars and stuff in a while. So it was nice seeing it all.”