Loneliness and isolation among seniors in aged care facilities is a devastating and growing problem, but a Melbourne-based startup is bringing seniors together through shared experiences in virtual reality (VR).
SilVR Adventures is providing highly immersive virtual experiences tailored to groups of seniors in aged care facilities across Victoria and planning to expand to more Australian states in 2020.
“Virtual reality has many proven applications in helping the elderly, from improving memory and tackling dementia, to helping with mobility. But one of its most striking and immediate benefits is its power to bring people together,” says Juliene Pudsey, Director of Community Engagement & Experience at SilVR Adventures.
With participants responding so well to trial sessions, some of the largest aged care providers in the country have asked SilVR Adventures to deliver programmes across their facilities.
Participants wear a VR headset and are guided by a SilVR Adventures facilitator through one of a range of scenarios, from exploring the Great Pyramids of Giza or meandering through the laneways of Rome, to journeying into outer space. All sessions are supervised by an aged care professional.
Pudsey says: “We take participants on incredible virtual trips to destinations around the world and beyond, but what participants usually enjoy most is sharing these immersive experiences with others.
“We’ve taken seniors on virtual plane trips and had participants ask if they could skydive from the plane as a group. It’s a safe environment where participants get really creative and adventurous, but the communal element of that shared experience is so important. We’re helping create shared experiences, resulting in shared memories and connections.”
The over 65s is the fastest growing demographic in Australia and studies have shown that seniors experiencing extreme loneliness are up to 26% more likely to die prematurely.¹
SilVR Adventures is collaborating with academics at two of Australia’s leading universities to investigate the benefits of VR in increasing happiness, social wellbeing and cognitive capability.
“With an endless range of potential experiences and relative affordability, VR has massive potential to help seniors live, happier, more connected lives. We’re thrilled to be part of something that can make a real improvement to seniors’ quality of life.”
Notes to editors
¹ The challenge of social isolation and loneliness: https://mspgh.unimelb.edu.au/ageing-industry-network/newsletter-issue-12-may-2019/the-challenge-of-social-isolation-and-loneliness
Social Media: @SilVRAdventures
Press contact: Colin Pudsey, CEO & Director of Business Development firstname.lastname@example.org