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The Use of Virtual Reality in Addressing Apathy in Aged People

The Use of Virtual Reality in Addressing Apathy in Aged People
Do you think youths are the only beneficiary of cutting edge technologies like VR and AR? It is not; aged people are also entitled to enjoy the good of such new-age concepts. We have found such an example in Australia. A group of aged people are now exploring the potential of VR technology and learning how useful the concept can be.

In Adelaide, the group of aged care residents is now trying to improve their mental health with the help of VR technology. Jim Saredakis, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Australia is using VR technology to address several types of mental disorders among the aged people in aged care homes.


VR to Address Widespread Apathy 

When talking about the experiment, Saredakis said that people in aged care homes suffer from various types of mental issues. In most cases, they suffer from a lack of motivation and lose interest in life. He also said that Apathy is one of the main reasons behind the poorer quality of life.

Saredakis said that apathy increases the possibility of early death among aged people. He has used VR technology to improve the condition and he believes that the concept can affect around 84% of aged people who live in aged care homes.


A Tool for Reminiscence Therapy 

In some cases, people use music and art therapy to improve the mental condition of aged persons. However, VR technology can do more than this. With the help of VR, aged care residents will be able to immerse themselves into past happy memories. This is called reminiscence therapy and VR is the perfect tool for this.

During the experiment, Saredakis interviewed 17 residents at the care home and learned about their positive memories in life. He sourced content for each of the aged people and let them viewed the content through a 360-degree angle. The content includes their favorite places, family videos, memories of travel, jobs, social connections, etc.


A Form of Motivation for Aged People 

When talking about its effect on aged people, Saredakis said that it is a digital storybook and the program helped the residents to travel to another world. They have enjoyed the experience and were happy. The feedback is positive, Saredakis added.

When describing their reactions when enjoying the content through the VR, he said that he saw a visible change in their mood and body language of the users who participated in the program. He added that although there were some emotional responses the outcome was positive.

When describing the response of residents with high apathy, Saredakis said that people with high apathy said more words than others. He believes that the experience has triggered in their brain. However, he also noted some side effects during the experiments.

Issues like motion sickness, nausea and dizziness were reported. According to Saredakis, all the aged residents who participated in the program termed their experience as favorite activity.

Such experiments clearly suggest that advanced technologies like VR and AR are no longer confined within the sphere of new-age users. The technology can help aged people to improve mental conditions and enjoy a better life.


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