New Dementia VR Study
A new study suggests that virtual reality could help those with dementia to recall memories and could contribute to an improved relationship with caregivers.
The study – largely led by researchers from the University of Kent – recruited eight people with dementia aged between 41 and 88 years old. The participants were asked to access five environments via virtual reality (VR) over sixteen sessions. These environments were: a cathedral, a forest, a sandy beach, a rocky beach and the countryside.
Over the course of the sessions, the researchers monitored and recorded feedback from the patients and their caregivers. One of the main findings was that the participants were able to recall old memories in response to the scenery they were experiencing through virtual reality.
Due to poor health or accessibility issues, it is often not possible for those with dementia to be taken to locations that may trigger memories in reality, which is where VR can help by transporting the user anywhere. For example, VR developers could recreate a person’s home or somewhere that they have a strong attachment to so they could ‘revisit’.
The participants reported that the experience was a positive one, and recalling memories not only put them in a better mood, but gave caregivers a better insight into their lives, improving that relationship and social interaction.
Of course, this was a study conducted on just a small selection of individuals, though Dr Ang of the School of Engineering and Digital Arts claimed that this study reveals that VR could have huge potential when it comes to helping those with dementia.
"It provides a richer and more satisfying quality of life than is otherwise available, with many positive outcomes. With further research, it will be possible to further evaluate the elements of virtual environments that benefit patients and use VR even more effectively."
At Wolfeton Manor Care Home Dorchester, we provide residential care for the elderly in the village of Charminster and the surrounding areas.