For silent generations and baby boomers, virtual reality is an elusive technological concept. Although not something they would likely use for personal enjoyment, virtual reality has become an essential part of the patient care journey.
Until 2019, Baby Boomers were the fastest growing demographic in the United States until Millennials took the title of the nation’s largest generation of living adults. In 2020, there were approximately 21.78 million living Silent Generation people and 70.68 million Baby Boomers. Despite these numbers, older people are often overlooked when it comes to new technologies, but many people don’t realize how pervasive digital tools are in their lives, especially in healthcare.
Skilled nursing facilities are no strangers to innovative technology. Their equipment is more advanced than ever, technology is an important part of their services and helps improve the daily lives of staff. While some skilled nursing facilities and long-term care centers have already found a use for virtual reality in their facilities, many SNFs and long-term care centers have yet to incorporate virtual reality into their offerings. .
Below, I examine in more detail how skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities can use virtual reality in their organizations to benefit residents.
Virtual reality can improve rehabilitation services
SNFs offer a wide range of services to residents, with rehabilitation being an important component. Most elderly patients have difficulty moving around and need physical rehabilitation services to help them improve their mobility or recover from an injury. Beyond that, lack of movement is also an issue in many centers across the country, which can have detrimental effects on a resident’s health and quality of life. While stretching and exercise is so important to residents, it’s not something many look forward to during the day. Virtual reality is helping to change this perspective.
It is difficult to maintain a resident’s interest and motivation when it comes to training, especially because routines can become monotonous so quickly. Virtual reality can make stretches and exercises more exciting, helping to keep more residents engaged. A center in Copenhagen even uses virtual reality on exercise bikes so that their residents can follow virtual paths and landscapes as they ride their bikes, giving them the feeling of riding along a park or along a Mountain.
This not only makes exercising fun, but it maximizes the rehabilitation benefits, as residents train harder when introduced to a more realistic setting.
Virtual reality can slow cognitive decline
Using virtual reality to encourage physical movement not only helps improve a resident’s mobility, but also has mental benefits. Using virtual reality exercise games, also known as “exergaming” or “gamercising,” can help prevent and slow cognitive decline. To research supports this, saying that VR exercise games have the potential to have a huge impact on dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and even Parkinson’s disease.
According Glatt Emerging Research, seniors who use VR games for exercise also see improvements in their brain’s ability to organize, plan and respond. In addition, their mood increases, they can move faster and their quality of life improves. With cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s disease affecting 5.8 million people In the United States, the use of technological innovations such as virtual reality could have an unprecedented impact on the health of the population.
VR promotes socialization
Although residents live in relatively close quarters at skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities, it can still be difficult to engage them and make new friends. Most NFS put a lot of time and effort into their activity calendars to ensure that there is always something going on at the center for residents. It could be bingo night, movie night, or a birthday party, but virtual reality is another fun thing that can be added to those calendars.
VR headsets can be distributed to a large group and these people can play games or travel around the world together. Engaging in a group activity like this is a great way to mix up the usual events and bring a whole new visually entertaining aspect to your Residents’ days that will bond on a whole new level. We know that isolation can lead to increased health problems and higher levels of anxiety and depressionthis is why socialization is essential within your establishment.
Virtual reality offers residents a freedom that facilities cannot truly offer without the technology. For most of your residents, your settlement will be their last home, so they deserve to have the world at their fingertips. Introducing virtual reality to your center may take some time, but it will be worth it for the physical, mental and social well-being of your residents.