Thanks to the VIREAS project and virtual reality, seniors gain new experiences

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Unusual entertainment takes place in Dobrá Voda Retirement Home near České Budějovice. Clients are testing and practising virtual reality here. This is happening within the Virtual Reality in Senior Activation (VIREAS) project, which will help mediate virtual reality experiences in geriatric facilities in the Czech Republic.

The first goal of the project is to develop a set of virtual reality experiences that respect the potential and needs of users in nursing homes. Currently, seniors can walk through the forest, the center of the real city, or choose from a number of themed trips. The second goal is to create a methodology for activation workers.

„Not only the form and content of the experience, but also the approach of the person who accompanies the senior in virtual reality, is crucial for the method to be successful. The methodology provides instructions on how to work meaningfully with virtual reality, and especially how to use the benefits of experiences in the „real world“ of the senior, for example in memory training. In October this year, we held a workshop for geriatric facility managers and activation staff. The discussion groups brought a number of suggestions, which we will definitely use in the methodology, „says the main researcher of the project, Dr. Věra Suchomelová, TF JU.

In connection with the isolation of seniors during the covid-19 pandemic, the importance of so-called smart technologies in the life of the oldest generation jumped, not only as a means of communication with family and friends, but also as a source of new impulses, entertainment and escape from monotonous reality . In virtual reality, one can also experience what is inaccessible to one in everyday life.

„I’m glad I did it. Because I’ll never visit that place again,“ says a touched client of a home for the elderly as she takes off her virtual reality goggles, which gave her the opportunity to visit the place of her youth.

The conclusions of foreign and domestic studies show that the use of virtual reality can be an effective way of reducing social isolation, negative emotional attunement or the feeling of pain.

„Our big goal is not only to develop experiences that can help in the homes of seniors, but mainly to do so in such a way that the program can be run by employees of these facilities without further assistance,“ concludes the co-researcher of the project doc. Lenka Lhotská, CIIRC CTU.

Detailed information about the project can be found at https://vireas.cz/.

Project TL02000344 – Virtual reality in the activation of seniors with the financial support of TA CR is implemented by the Faculty of Theology of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice together with the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics of the Czech Technical University and the Association of Virtual and Augmented Reality s.r.o.

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