Everything you need to know about

VR for Seniors

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Chapter I

What is VR?

Virtual reality, commonly known as VR, is an immersive technology that has been growing for years and is having widespread success in multiple industries, especially senior living.

For those unfamiliar, virtual reality is a headset technology that takes you into a simulated environment. It brings you into another world, one of games, adventure, fun and learning. Due to its 360 degree feature, it feels like you’re actually in the environment, with your view adjusting as you look around to explore, similar to reality. What makes VR so special, particularly for older adults or for those who are physically restricted, is it allows them to experience exciting new things without having to leave their home, community, or healthcare setting. One can put the headset on and virtually join an exercise class, go swimming with dolphins, visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or really anything they dream of!

It’s why we’re so excited about the technology here at Rendever, and why we’ve built this comprehensive guide on VR for seniors. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

craig-reaching_smiling

  
Chapter II

Types of VR Headsets

In our minds, virtual reality originated almost 100 years ago when a device - one that you’re likely familiar with - was debuted at the World Fair: the View-Master. Originally, tourist attractions and travel views predominated in View-Master's lists of reels, most of which were meant to be interesting to users of all ages. In 1942, the military began using the viewmaster for training purposes. This propelled the technology from an entertainment device to a product with profound impact. In our eyes, it was the first big enterprise use case of VR, and nearly 80 years later, the government is again making massive investments in VR devices, including a recent $22b hardware purchase.

 

In the years since, VR has come a long way. There’s a wide variety of companies building virtual reality headsets for different purposes. Importantly, modern headsets are lighter, more comfortable, all-in-one devices with hand controls and microphones built into them, which allow for more meaningful social connections and interactions during experiences that are delivered to multiple headsets.

VR headsets
VR headsets 2

Today, the most prolific manufacturer of VR headsets is Meta. They have such an invested interest in bringing VR into the future that in 2022 they changed the prolific name of the company (Meta was originally named Facebook, and maintained that name for 20 years as it grew to one of the largest companies in the world). With the increasing adoption of consumer headsets, a number of other large technology companies have also made significant traction in the space. Pico, the largest provider of enterprise-grade headsets, was acquired by ByteDance in 2021 - this name likely sounds familiar, as they also are the parent company of the rapidly growing social media company, TikTok. Other significant players in the hardware space include HTC, Samsung, and even HP - a company you may well associate with printers.

 

VR Hardware Features

In the landscape of VR headsets, there are a few distinguishing features you should understand to help you get a grasp on the different types of VR headsets.

Degrees of Freedom (DoF)

6DoF Headsets 3DoF Headsets
6DoF headsets combine the tracking of rotational motion with translational motion, allowing for an immersive VR experience where users can look and move around in a VR space.
For example, our VR fitness platform, RendeverFit™, requires the use of 6dof headsets to enable a more realistic sense of active locomotion. It helps with immersion, which in turn drives better (and hopefully more prolonged) engagement.
3DoF headsets allow for 3 degrees of freedom. These headsets can track rotational motion of a headset, allowing for the wearer to look around and experience VR space. 3DoF headsets are perfect  for a user who wants to remain in the same position while using VR, either sitting or standing.
Most widely studied and published forms of distraction therapy utilize 3dof headsets. The accomplished sense of immersion combined with the more physically passive experiences enable these headsets to be incredibly impactful. To their benefit, they also tend to be less expensive (in some cases, even half the costs).

 

Foveated Rendering

Foveated rendering is a rendering style used by a VR headset to help reduce its workload - and optimize its processing power - by limiting image quality outside of the eye’s focus range. By reducing the quality of the view in the user's peripheral vision, the headset can increase the quality of the view directly in front of the user by directing more of its power in that region. This can create a more vivid experience for the user.

 

 

Processing Power

Processing power is most easily defined as the ability and speed of a computer to do work. Processing power is generally linked to the efficiency and size of various components of the computer's hardware, such as the hard drive and RAM. As technology has evolved, it’s become possible to fit a ton of processing power into a smaller space, such as a VR headset. This is why modern headsets have become so much smaller and more comfortable.

 

Interpupillary Distance (IPD)

Interpupillary Distance is the distance between a person’s pupils. This distance is important to know for VR headset users, as the headset lens distance should match the IPD of the user - much like a pair of glasses - to be fully comfortable. Many VR headsets have the ability to adjust the distance between the lenses to increase the comfort per user.

 

Lens Types

Different types of lens bend light to allow for different angles of view. A wider angle of view allows for the user to see more of the environment through their display, while a narrow view allows for a more focused display.
Pancake Lens Fresnel Lens
A pancake lens is a style of lens that is flat, giving it a wider angle of view. This flat shape allows the lens and display to move much closer together, resulting in a more compact headset. A Fresnel lens is a flat lens that concentrates light into a super powerful beam, which results in high image quality. Fresnel lenses are constructed in a way that reduce its overall size, being perfect for fitting in something small like a VR headset.
  
Chapter III

How VR is Being Used for Seniors

The VR for senior market has grown tremendously since Rendever was founded in 2016. Today, out of the largest 25 for-profit senior living providers in the United States, 32% have deployed some form of virtual reality technology. The number is even higher for the largest not-for-profits, with over 50% using virtual reality for seniors.

The use cases vary, and we’ll overview some of the most influential and fastest growing implementations below.

Resident Engagement

When you look at the technology, there are a few things that make VR unbeatable. First and foremost, it’s fully immersive. At its most basic level, when you put on a headset, You feel as if you are immediately transported to a different place, and that means that the entire world is open to you. 

On that note, it’s pretty limitless. VR allows you to go anywhere and do anything. A good VR platform has a library of experiences that is all encompassing, so you can kind of act as a genie and make your residents’ wishes come true. Eiffel tower? Be there in a snap! Face your fears and jump out of a plane in a skydiving experience? Be our guest! Walk around the streets of the town you grew up in? Please share your stories!

The programming options created are limitless here. But the true magic happens in the interactions caused by each piece of programming. The quick moments of laughter, joy, and shared stories are what truly help people connect and build relationships to stave off loneliness.

 


Reducing Social Isolation

Since the beginning, Rendever’s mission has been to overcome social isolation through the power of virtual reality and shared experiences. We fundamentally believe that the foundation of all human connection is shared, positive experiences. So, after months of careful research and planning, we developed a VR platform specifically designed to stimulate conversations, build trust, and help people develop meaningful relationships within aging communities.

 



Virtual Tours

Data shows that 92% of prospects expect personalization when making a purchasing decision. Moving into a senior living community is one of the most personal and emotional decisions people make, so a personalized process is quickly becoming necessary. Using VR to lead virtual tours of communities does not only match the modern purchasing process, it also caters to the emotional needs of prospective residents by creating a human-centered path to making the best decision for all involved. 

With virtual tours, you smooth the entire touring process in a number of important ways:

  • VR is portable, so the community can be “brought” to the prospect. This is a much friendlier and more accessible way of navigating care schedules to arrange a tour.
  • VR tours provide efficiency. Prospects can visit a variety of communities within a single meeting without having to drive around or arrange multiple dates to tour. If there’s one that looks especially perfect, they can always ask to visit that community in person, and it’s more likely a deal will happen then.

VR tours provide better live insight. Sales directors are able to see exactly where prospects are looking during a virtual tour in real-time, allowing them to tailor their sales pitch.

EnvisionHome™ Tablet View

EnvisionHome™ is our virtual reality platform that allows sales and marketing teams to seamlessly run virtual tours with prospective families. The brilliance of VR in this use case is that the building does not have to be spotless and organized - with residents ushered around - at a moment’s notice to leave the best impression possible for a prospect. In fact, the building doesn’t even have to be built! Along with 360° images and videos, interior designers and senior living developers can even upload 3D renderings while the building is still in development. This allows the sales funnel to build earlier, which is obviously exciting. 

Prospects benefit from the immersive elements of VR and can truly envision their future home (get the name?). Through networked VR, sales directors are able to see exactly where prospects are looking in real-time, allowing them to tailor their sales pitch to the elements that are most interesting for that specific prospect.

Since physical distance barriers are totally removed through VR, corporate groups can benefit doubly here by allowing prospects to tour multiple communities throughout their portfolio in a single sitting. This is more efficient for sales teams of the communities, more efficient for prospects, and more efficient for building a roster of residents that form the life of the actual community. 

 

 

Virtual Gathering

Virtual meeting spaces became incredibly popular through the pandemic. With VR, you’re able to move beyond the 2d screen and bring people together in authentic spaces. Our team has a fair bit of experience here, having launched a social gathering VR app with over 500,000 users.

 

Alcove Header

In order to meet across distances, it’s important to be able to interact. In the VR ecosystem, this most commonly leads to the use of avatars. Staff are able to customize avatars for each resident, and family members are able to customize their own avatars. That way, when the individuals come together, they are interacting with somebody that looks like the actual person they’re meeting with. Especially for older adults with cognitive impairment, avatar likeness - or “sameness” - is critical. As a company, we decided to build our own avatar system to ensure that the customization process included age diversity. 

 

 

Family Engagement

For seniors, one of the most impactful forms of virtual gathering is with their family members. For senior living, it’s important to remember that most residents have a strong community of people built far before they move into senior living: their family. The best approach to make everyone feel comfortable before, during, and after the transition is to make sure that there are powerful ways to stay connected. This is true for everyone - from the family member who lives around the corner, available to visit and check in frequently, to the wider family who may be dispersed all over the country, making physical gathering a rarity.

Virtual reality enables residents and their families to gather as avatars (as described above) and spend time together. Whether it’s taking a virtual trip together or simply sitting on a virtual couch and talking about life, virtual reality provides an incredibly enjoyable mechanism for maintaining family relationships. 

It’s worth noting that we’ve seen some families take it a step further by building their own virtual reality experiences, personalized to their family.

Today there are consumer grade 360° cameras that are pretty seamless to use and don’t require any highly technical skill set to edit and produce to give a ‘good enough’ experience. This means that anybody can grab a camera and film something important to them. For us, this translates to the understanding that family members can take 360° cameras and film important moments that they cannot physically bring their loved one to. 

The Rendever family portal empowers family members to do just this. They can participate in customizing the experience for their loved ones through sharing 360° footage of family events. They can also share personal photos and old family videos, and use tools to create a reminiscence journey that takes their loved one on a location-by-location tour of their life, full of memories and family stories. The opportunities here are, again, amazing. A resident never again has to miss the wedding of a granddaughter who lives across the country - she can be there front-row, sitting next to her family members, crying alongside them and joining in the fun. 

Mother and Grandfather using VR with Rendever

 

Dementia Care

One of today’s most common neurodegenerative diseases is dementia, which is marked by a steady decline in an individual’s mental ability, typically progressing and interfering with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia; it impairs memory (especially short-term memory) and other important functions such as critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 50% of nursing home residents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias (1). According to modern data, 87% of assisted living residents are estimated to have some level of cognitive impairment.

 

Physical Fitness and Physical Therapy

According to the NIH, studies show that physical activity among older adults reduces the risk of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, delays the onset of dementia, and improves overall health.

Integrating VR into your physical fitness and physical therapy programs can make everything more fun, thereby increasing compliance and increasing the long-term value of the program. When done successfully, participants of such programs can expect to boost brain health, increase self-esteem and strengthen their sense of holistic purpose through community integration - especially if a strong social group is built the activity.

It's for these reasons that we launched RendeverFit™ in 2022. RendeverFit™ is the first VR platform that combines physical fitness with cognitive stimulation and socialization, created to address widespread physical inactivity in seniors with the added benefit of combating loneliness. 

Residents try RendeverFit™

 

Pain Management

Cognitive distraction methods have been used by physicians to treat different types of pain for a long time now. VR provides a new face to these distraction methods by providing various interactive games - some of which we host on the Rendever platform (ask to try out Balloon Popper!). These games are played in a simulated environment and are loaded with interactive features. While some apps provide therapeutic VR for burn victims, there are also significantly advanced measures that facilitate efficient limb pain management. Furthermore, VR serves as a drug-free pain management alternative, which can be used with or without clinical care settings.

 

Staff Training

General Training

  • Statistic about power of immersive education vs 2d screen
  • Example of repeat staff trainings that are possible through our platform

Staff training for VR system

 

Empathy Training

If you’ve ever wondered how it feels like to grow old, what it feels like to not be able to lift a limb above your head, or how it feels when you’ve lost one of your fingers...Virtual reality can help with that. Experiencing such conditions through VR can help students and physicians develop one of the must-have abilities to become a doctor: empathy.

Women caregiver support

The University of New England put this theory to the test by incorporating age-related condition simulations via VR in the medical school curriculum. In this program, participating students were found to better understand such conditions and saw an increase in their empathy for the elderly.

Intergenerational programming for seniors with VR

Another university that explored the potential of VR in medical education is the University of Michigan. Here, virtual reality was used to train students to develop communication skills with a virtual human, which proved to be very helpful when delivering difficult news.

  
Chapter IV

How to Build a Robust VR Program

Building a robust VR program involves a number of key components. As with anything that requires a budget and buy-in, you’ll need to align stakeholders, gain confidence in the technology, and clearly communicate your “why” - your personalized vision for VR and the impact you’re going to create.

 

 

Let’s start with your “why”

Out of all the approaches outlined in chapter 3, VR resident engagement has had the most robust adoption across the country. Resident engagement using virtual reality can take a number of forms, depending on your goals. At Rendever, we’ve seen the following successful use cases while using VR for seniors:

  • Reminiscence therapy with early to moderate stage seniors with dementia (we’re actively gathering data in a clinical trial on this!)
  • Using VR to help potential residents navigate the senior living move-in process
  • Onboarding new residents into your community through life story capture and immersive sharing

Great! You have your raison d'etre for launching a VR program with your residents. Now, let’s make sure we get everybody else on board.

Mother and Daughter try VR at senior living community

 

Align Stakeholders by Setting Clear Expectations

Before the deployment of any new technology, it is recommended that all parties involved identify tangible measures to outline what success looks like for the program, as well as what the appropriate strategic approach is for any given facility. To accomplish these important steps, a kick-off meeting that includes all stakeholders is recommended to alignment on goals, milestones, and deployment strategies.

 

Build Confidence through Deployment Support

The successful adoption of VR begins with support at the point of deployment from individuals who have the tools required to successfully deliver a VR program. To ensure this outcome, it is recommended to assign responsibility to Community Champions with a natural interest in technology and who welcome the accountability to successfully deliver VR programming to residents and/or patients.  Selecting the right leader at deployment will significantly increase the likelihood of any VR program being successfully adopted.

Rendever deployment with press cameras

 

Getting Ready for the Future: An Eye to Analytics

Once you’ve done the hard work of getting stakeholders involved and onboard, you’re just around the corner from delivering some true magic to your residents! There’s one final thing you should consider ahead of your first day with VR: how you’ll analyze your own success.

An approach that includes regular review of analytics and reporting information (i.e. sessions delivered, moments experienced, time spent in VR) will allow you to maintain the momentum of a successful deployment, or provide guidance and strategies to correct a slow down in usage. The consistency of the reviews and the subsequent actions taken based on the data provided is what is most important in this stage.  Typically, the benefits come from monthly data reviews that provide insight into the number of times the system was “picked up off the shelf” and where there are opportunities to adjust the deployment strategy; adjustments that will ultimately deliver more value to older adults.

 

Frequency and Scheduling

Frequency

Rendever works with hundreds of communities and has robust analytics built into the platform that provide powerful insights, which are used to support individual communities, and to learn the best broadscale approaches. These insights have provided a particulalry valuable lesson: delivering a minimum of three VR sessions each week, over an extended period of time, will significantly increase the likelihood that the technology is adopted in a meaningful and impactful way.

Scheduling

Making sure that VR programming is a regularly scheduled activity is another essential element for creating a successful VR program, scheduling supports frequency. Leveraging the tools and resources provided by partners (analytics, scheduling support, live programming), communities and Champions delivering VR programming can plan the delivery of sessions well in advance, at times three months in advance, to build excitement, enthusiasm, and participation in VR experiences.

Through the delivery of frequent VR sessions, as well as the advanced scheduling of these sessions, VR technology is likely to gain traction and establish the end-user engagement needed to maintain momentum for any deployment program. 

Rely on Your Partner

Finally, make sure you can rely on your partner to help build momentum for frequent use. At Rendever, we work with communities on customized sessions that provide unique experiences that can easily be placed on any activity calendar to drive further interest, excitement, and engagement. Custom programs offer a number of benefits that benefit staff and organizations:

  • Reprieve for staff: Let your partners lead sessions and offer your staff a break
  • Scheduling: Set the schedule according to the needs of your group 
  • Relevant topics: Deliver experiences that match resident's interests 

Direct engagement: Using interactive chat features, let your partners connect with residents directly - building social connections and repeat attendance. This is what we do daily with RendeverLive™

Sample activity calendar on rendeverlive


What to ask a vendor

Pricing will clearly be a part of the conversation. As with all things, if you’re just looking for a cheap offer, you’re probably selling yourself (and your budget) short. Here’s a set of questions you should consider asking:

Information gathering:

  1. How frequently do your customers use your platform, on average?
  2. Do we own the hardware or are we just leasing it?
  3. What is your retention rate with customers? 

 

Diving deeper:

  1. How do you maintain strong usage when we have staff turnover?
  2. How is your platform different from a headset you can buy off the shelf at your local electronics store?
  3. How frequently are you launching new experiences, and how do you source the ideas for them?

Choose the Right Partner

Choosing the right partner is the most important step towards delivering a robust and meaningful VR program at your location. Experience has demonstrated one critical rule: find mission alignment.

At Rendever, we are overcoming social isolation through the power of virtual reality and positive shared experiences. From senior living communities, hospice providers, and health systems, our platform is being used to reduce depression and loneliness by fostering personal connections amongst populations where life has become limited. It is through this clarity of message that over 450 partnerships started, remain in place today, and brought Rendever a retention rate of over 95%.

Hazel loves Rendever

Based on this experience and success, it is strongly recommended that mission alignment is established before the development of any partnership with a VR provider. Mission alignment provides for a common goal and purpose that guides the development of strategic approaches for VR delivery, while at the same time brings individuals together to work towards a common good - something that binds all partnerships through any growing pains they may experience. 

Ultimately, it is Rendever’s goal to empower thriving social relationships through established partnerships. This goal is accomplished by furnishing partners with everything needed to provide meaningful, joyful, and engaging positive shared experiences designed to stimulate the mind, and improve social connections, for their residents.

 

Working with Rendever

There’s so many more golden lessons we’ve learned through each of our community partners, and we’ve built each of them into our onboarding process. When you sign up with Rendever, you’ll get 90 days with a dedicated onboarding manager who will make sure your community experiences the magic of Rendever starting from day one.

Staff starting a Rendever VR session

Why wait? See the magic of our platform with a demo designed around your biggest programming needs.  Join our weekly demo here.

Rendever VR headset

 

  
Chapter V

The Experience

So you have an idea of how VR works and how you can use it for seniors, but what actually happens when you put on a VR headset? As you can probably tell, experiences in VR can vary widely. With seniors, we tend to find that VR experiences end up in one of several major buckets. Let’s discuss the magic that happens once a senior puts a headset on, and the many benefits of different types of experiences.

 

Therapeutic Experiences in VR

VR experiences offer an intimate front row view that creates the feeling of really being there. These immersive experiences stimulate the senses, effectively calm anxiety, and inspire amazing interactions.  A review published by Freeman et al. (2017) explained the efficacy of VR in assessing and treating different psychological disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, and eating disorders. Therapeutic experiences can target various needs, but they all have unbelievable results.

Woman tries Rendever

Animal therapy is a big one. Sometimes, it’s better to show rather than tell, so please enjoy this video of one of our favorite residents, Mickey.

Mickey was known within her community as a person who lit up the room, always with a big smile and contagious laugh. Unfortunately, Mickey was diagnosed with dementia and was hit hard by expressive aphasia, losing her ability to communicate. When she was introduced to Rendever, she was first placed in a room full of golden retriever puppies. Her immediate, joyful reaction was the first time Mickey had smiled in months. Using VR, she was able to reclaim part of herself that had been lost to dementia and light up the room once again.

Some other favorite examples of therapeutic experiences in VR include:

  • Swimming with Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins in VR

  • Aurora Borealis

Auroria Borealis in VR

  • Fireside Poems

Reading poems by the fireside in VR

 

Bucket List Experiences in VR

Don’t let anything stop you from checking off your bucket list! Want to climb Mt. Everest today? Or maybe take 10 minutes to go for a hot air balloon ride in Portugal before lunch? No problem! With VR, people can travel anywhere in the world and experience activities that may no longer be within their reach. 

It’s truly a magical moment being able to help someone check off a bucket list item that they had given up on. One meaningful example is our new VR Honor Flight experience, which brings veterans in our hospice communities on their Honor Flight that they never were able to experience. Another magical moment took place when, in partnership with AARP Wish of a Lifetime, we granted a veteran named George’s lifelong wish of hiking the Grand Canyon. As you can imagine, these experiences can be really powerful, but see for yourself what it meant to George in this video.

Man checks off bucket list with Rendever VR

 

Some crowd favorite bucket list experiences in VR:

  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Skydiving in Brazil
  • Climbing Everest
  • Vivaldi at Red Rocks Amphitheater

 

Education and Training in VR

VR has proven to be a useful tool for empathy building and training. Staff in communities can immersively observe how to properly move individuals from beds to wheelchairs, physical therapists can walk patients through home assessments before they’re released from rehab, and caregivers can experience first hand what it is like to go through life with dementia. These immersive experiences are far more impactful than just hearing or reading the information. The review published by Freeman et al. (2017) also found that VR and AR support learning and increase content understanding and memory preservation. By experiencing first hand, the information sticks and is more meaningful.

Similar benefits occur with educational VR experiences. Continued learning through VR is more engaging, interesting, and imaginative. Instead of reading about Ancient Rome, individuals can travel to the Coliseum with an expert host and immerse themselves in history. Instead of watching an exercise video on youtube, individuals can do a VR Chair Yoga class with a private instructor in a peaceful setting. Instead of brushing up on biology via a textbook, individuals can dive into and explore the VR submicroscopic inner world of a plant. As you can see, the possibilities and benefits of VR are endless!

 

Personalized Experiences in VR

When you personalize a VR experience, you open the door to a whole new level of impact. 

To see just what’s possible with a personalized experience in VR, check out some of the magical moments we’ve created here.

 

Creating an Experience with a 360° Camera

At this point you may be wondering: can I create a VR experience like this? The answer is yes, definitely! However, there’s an approach that works well. 

Now, don’t be scared. To produce a high quality experience worthy of a film festival, you would need to put in a ton of effort and production know-how. However, we’ve seen some of the most impactful experiences come from a simple camera filming a meaningful moment. Just imagine bringing your grandmother to your wedding, when a recent health issue makes her cancel at the last minute. Yep, we’ve seen it. And we definitely cried when we saw just how powerful it was.

Capturing wedding ceremony on cell phone video

In these instances, it’s more about the experience than the nitty gritty components of recording a feature length experience. It’s too long to go through here, but if you're interested in creating something magical, feel free to reach out to us.

Caregiver tries Rendever VR with older adult

Check out what's possible

  
Chapter VI

Research on VR for Seniors

Whenever you introduce a new technology to a population - especially one that includes vulnerable segments - research is critical. This is, of course, true for the use of VR for seniors as well. For us, when we were starting, there was no existing proof-point that it was possible to positively use VR with the aging population, and as a result, we faced a lot of hesitation in the early days. 

We knew the industry needed to see the proof. So, we worked with the world-renowned MIT AgeLab and found that after just two weeks of daily group Rendever sessions, participants reported statistically significant decreases in depression scores and increases in multiple measures of social wellbeing. Most interestingly, people started to trust each other more. When you think of the foundational elements of a human relationship, trust is pretty significant, so this was a really exciting result for us. 

 

VR for Seniors and their family members: a first-of-its-kind clinical trial

After a few years of grant applications and study revisions, we were awarded a Phase I grant from the National Institute on Aging to study what we’re calling “virtual family engagement”. The study kicked off in September 2019, and we set out to answer two questions: (1) will this really work across a distance? Most of our experience to date had been in sharing experiences among groups who are seated next to each other wearing their headsets, and (2) will this work for those on the memory care spectrum? Depending on the experience, the family members are either only present through voice or embodied by 3D avatars, which is just abstract enough to potentially cause confusion and distress, and we needed to understand if that could be the case. After all, if the family member's “virtual” presence created any negative emotions, it probably wouldn’t present an opportunity for virtual family engagement to really take shape.

 

Our study design looked at each component of what was possible through our current implementation of family engagement. We considered our baseline to be a standard phone call between the resident and family member, and then kicked off weekly sessions that allowed them to experience VR together. The first experimental session was what people typically think of with VR - they got to share in a session of 360° video experiences and talked the whole way through each one. The second experimental session required the family members to create a custom life story for their loved one by using the family portal beforehand. During the session, they went and experienced each stop together, and shared in memories along the way. For the final session, family members uploaded old family photos and videos beforehand, again using the Rendever family portal. During the session, they came together as avatars and sat next to each other on a couch in our virtual family room. The photos and videos were shown on the virtual TV, and they just focused on enjoying themselves and recounting the memories and stories that naturally bubbled up. We didn’t really know what to expect during this session, but I’ll never forget being there for the first participant. They spent a full ninety minutes in that virtual family room, and the room was full of smiles, laughter, and a few tears. It was amazing to see, and it was replicated throughout the study.

We were unable to finish data collection before the pandemic hit, but the results were looking pretty spectacular. We saw high levels of user satisfaction and overall joy with using the technology. The residents showed statistically significant increases in positive emotional affect and decreases in negative emotions over the course of the study, which is obviously enticing from a product perspective. We saw statistically significant increases in quality of life measures, which is a result that’s been repeated throughout multiple studies and again points to why this technology is gaining so much traction within the industry.

We were most excited about the impact on the dyadic relationship between the resident and the family member. After all, strong relationships are the best way to solve for social isolation. Over just three weekly VR sessions, the feelings of emotional closeness were significantly increased and feelings of isolation from the family member significantly decreased. I want to emphasize that all of these results reached statistical significance, which is really exciting. We also saw dramatic improvements in feelings of satisfaction in the relationship, but we’re just shy of reaching statistical significance with this dataset. 

Overall, the results were phenomenal, and we were given the green light to fast track and apply for a Phase II clinical trial, which was awarded and is in active data collection. Stay in touch with us to hear the latest when results are shared.

Rendever Thrive Study at Senior living community in Massachusetts

 

  
Chapter VII

Conclusion

So there you have it, the definitive guide to using VR for seniors. As you can tell, there’s a massive opportunity to leverage virtual reality in powerful ways, redefining the aging process through joy and human connection (and, as we like to say, a little magic).

If you’re excited about the opportunity and want to dive deeper, we’re here to guide you. Our team at Rendever has been working with senior living communities, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations across the world to deliver the best VR platform to this incredible demographic of older adults. Reach out to our team, we’d love to arrange a demonstration so you can see it for yourself. After all, as is true with most magical experiences, seeing is believing.


Why wait? See the magic of our platform with a demo designed around your biggest programming needs.

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