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[CYBER CONNECTIONS] VR tool boosts caregiver-older adult relationships

Research conducted by Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) in collaboration with Mynd Immersive and AT&T 5G Healthcare suggests that virtual reality (VR) is paving the way for enhancing relationships between older adults and caregivers. The study sought to understand older adults' attitudes towards new technologies, including VR, and how professional caregivers felt about facilitating VR experiences for older adults.

"This study showcases how a tool which is typically associated with youthful entertainment has transformative applications in healthcare, particularly geriatric care," said Dr. Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the VHIL.

Among the findings: 81.5% of caregivers reported they enjoyed interacting with residents more while using Mynd Immersive (formerly MyndVR) software than while doing other activities, and 94.9% said that using the program was moderately-to-extremely beneficial to their relationship with the resident; similarly, 83% of residents reported that using the program was moderately-to-extremely beneficial to their relationship with the caregiving staff.  

The study also found that after using the program:

  • 74.2% of the caregivers reported that the residents' mood improved and 79.2% of the residents reported feeling more positive.
  • 57.9% of older adults reported feeling less isolated from the outside world.
  • Participants overwhelmingly felt positive about using VR and compared to other technologies like cell phones and voice assistants

For the study, Stanford's lab, focused on the psychological and behavioral effects of VR in a survey of 245 older adults and 39 caregivers in 16 senior living communities across 10 states. The study, the largest ever conducted on VR and older adults, has already won a "Top Paper" award from the National Communication Association and will be presented at their upcoming annual convention. The paper has also been accepted by the journal, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking and will be published later in 2023.

To read the presentation abstract, click here

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