During one of the recent virtual reality sessions at La Posada, a premier retirement community, a resident reached for a martini glass on a cocktail table in front of her while listening to an entertainer sing Frank Sinatra songs in a lounge. While reaching for the martini glass and grabbing a wisp of air, the resident remembered she was not actually at the show. However, she kept tapping her toes to the beat and turning her head up, down and sideways to take in the full spectrum that MyndVR created. The senior living community recently partnered with MyndVR, a health and wellness company creating virtual reality (VR) solutions for adults 55-plus, to participate in a nationwide pilot to gain observational data on the positive impact VR has on seniors’ well-being. Residents across the continuum of care from independent living to assisted living and memory care will participate in virtual reality experiences using the company’s proprietary VR solution and customized content. The innovative technology and unique content provides opportunities for engagement, reminiscing, increased feelings of joy, and a sense of connection.
“I was getting ready to showcase a TED Talk on virtual reality and the potential it has for health care when I learned of MyndVR,” said Rick Minichino, Wellness Director of La Posada. “The timing was impeccable, and partnering with MyndVR to run a pilot at the community was an opportunity I jumped at for our residents. When thinking of what this could do for the residents, I considered the therapeutic aspects for residents with dementia in memory care and those with less mobility or other health issues in assisted living. I believe the music component will be especially beneficial for those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s, igniting memories associated with different songs during the course of their lifetime. For those in need of assistive services, I think this will be a new technique for them to experience the world from inside our community. For a resident living in assisted living who cannot travel extensively due to physical limitations or reasons pertaining to health, they can still embark on adventures through the virtual reality program and then share these experiences with their family or friends.”
The pilot was first made available to assisted living residents, and the community is now extending the pilot to residents living in independent living and memory care. Minichino’s hope for memory care residents is that the VR program brings out their personality traits through dancing in their chairs, smiling, singing and toe-tapping as they experience elevated moods and connect with content that helps them recall memories from the past. There are a number of interactive environments in which residents can immerse themselves, and all of the content is customized for seniors.
“I foresee virtual reality having the potential to be a part of our programming as a form of clinical treatment, therapeutic engagement and entertainment,” said Minichino. “I am excited to explore this new technology with our residents and see all of the unique and interesting content MyndVR has to offer and what they come up with next. During the pilot, residents have undergone a variety of experiences already. For example, you can move through famous paintings, or you can go diving and look at bright tropical fish swimming around and the sunlight streaming through the top of the water. In other virtual reality experiences, you can go white water rafting, submerse yourself in an African grassland with elephants coming up to you, or float in space to look at the stars and Jupiter. It is really quite amazing, and I am very excited to share this with more residents living in our community.”
“We spent the past year conducting a nationwide pilot, and we are thrilled to partner with La Posada as we conclude this phase,” said Chris Brickler, co-founder of MyndVR. “MyndVR is much more than entertainment. We are really looking to improve the lives and overall health and cognitive outcomes for seniors. We have seen our proprietary VR solution and customized content have a powerful impact on hundreds of seniors so far. We have observed mood improvement, reductions in feelings of isolation, triggering of memories, an increased sense of connection, and lifted spirits among participants. Some participants have even reported relief from symptoms of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and Parkinson’s disease. This approach is proving successful during our pilot, and we look forward to incorporating our findings from the residents’ experiences at La Posada into our Mynd MomentumTM solution.”