And you thought video games were just for kids!
SPH architecture + interiors recently attended the Aged Care Services WA conference held in Joondalup.
We were fascinated to see how virtual reality technology is being harnessed for therapeutic purposes in residential aged care settings. Interactive games through virtual reality goggles and robots are now being used by aged care providers such as Amana Living and Swancare in WA to enhance the lived experience for those with dementia.
The aim in utilising this new technology is to encourage residents to interact, reflect and reminisce with caregivers noting that residents “awaken” during therapy sessions and talk about their past. One example of a game being used at the moment, the Virtual Forest Game, developed by Lifeview and Alzheimer’s Australia, is essentially a memory support program which immerses residents in a soothing sensory virtual environment. The technology uses nature-based virtual settings to “transport” residents around the world from their armchair.
There is a growing body of evidence about the positive effects of nature settings, and artwork that represents nature, which are known to have a calming influence, reducing agitation in residents living with dementia.
The interactive game shown in the video link below uses connect sensors to pick up body movement. Dr Tanya Petrovich, a tech developer with Alzheimer’s Australia, noted that early findings have found a 64% reduction in the use of anti-psychotic drugs in the patients who participate in the program.
Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and more than 350,000 people currently live with the condition.
There is no cure at the moment for dementia and it is estimated the number of patients will increase to about 900,000 in Australia by 2050.
Image: A scene from Virtual Forest supplied by Alzheimers Australia