How is one assisted living site keeping seniors happy? Through virtual reality

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 6:36 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Seniors at an assisted living home in Evans are taking a page out of the younger generation’s playbook.

Caregivers at the facility experienced first-hand how certain technology is helping their residents stay mentally and physically healthy during the pandemic.

“It’s a way for the residents to be able to reconnect with their life,” said Kellie Pugh, executive director of Marshall Pines Assisted Living and Memory Care.

Seniors at Marshall Pines are seeing a different view, through virtual reality.

Pugh says it’s more than just the latest technology; it’s a tool that helps many stay active.

“The residents that we have are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, so they have a lot of memory impairment,” Pugh explained.

“We have a gentleman that was in the Marines that used to work on fighter jets, so that’s something he enjoys doing,” she said. “We have another resident that enjoys fishing, so we’re able to find a program where he can actually fish. I swam with the manatees earlier this morning.”

A new study says although there is no cure for dementia, VR teleports individuals to a low stimulus world. This means VR can improve mental health, which is crucial because that same study found almost half of assisted living residents experience depression.

“I think it will continue to allow us to provide a wonderful quality of life for the residents that we serve,” Pugh said.

With the pandemic causing nursing home visitations to be cut off, VR may offer a much-needed feeling of connection.

“It allows them to stay connected to the outside world. Even though they’re protected from it, they’re still able to be a part of it through this virtual reality,” she said.

Marshall Pines says even after the pandemic is over, they will continue to use virtual reality, as long as it’s available to them, to help keep residents healthy.

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