Virtual Reality Time Travel for Dementia

July 11th, 2018

Research into technology to benefit people with dementia has skyrocketed over the past few years – we’ve already spoke about wonderful new inventions such as The Book of You created by a local company – and we at Just Imagine are always excited to hear all about it.

The latest piece of up-coming technology that has sparked our interest is the recent news that tests have been conducted to see whether or not virtual reality time travel can help people with dementia through nostalgia. The VR headsets feature films and clips of old shops, streets and seaside resorts, in an aid to encourage communication with residents by bringing up happy memories of their past to trigger conversation starters. This technology has been developed by an up-and-coming London-based tech organisation called Virtue, with focus on harnessing the power of immersive technology to make therapeutic approaches to dementia and cognitive impairment more effective, accessible, and affordable.

Virtue

For the tests, about 100 dementia sufferers from all over Britain will take part in government-backed trials using virtual reality to help recall lost memories, according to Virtue. Researchers have found that reminiscence therapy improves cognitive functions and reduces depressive symptoms in people with dementia and that it is more effective with those in care homes than those living independently¹. According to Arfa Rehman, co-founder of Virtue;

If people remember more of their past, remember more of themselves, it just helps with overall mental wellbeing,

The exciting part about this is that the NHS (Britain’s National Health Service) is testing this new form of reminiscence therapy in care homes and hospitals all over the UK. NHS’s Michael Hurt, a dementia expert, who will be helping to implement the pilot in Walsall:

Several of us working on the project had a very positive experience with family and friends using VR, all of the pilot areas are very keen to see if this software improves wellbeing, mood and sleep and if it reduces anxiety and agitation, as well as the potential to reduce some of the pain experienced in dementia.”

The trial is set to last the next six months, aiming to find out the potential benefits of more regular use of the technology. We’ll keep our eyes out for any future developments in this technology – is this the future of dementia?

Are you a care home provider or manager worried about the well-being of your dementia residents? Why not contact us to see if we can put our dementia expertise to use with your home!