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Virtual reality coming to Euroa
December 16, 2018
OCAV has received a grant from the Ian Currie Rollo Estate Foundation’s Caring for Rural Australians program to pilot Virtual Reality technology in Currie Park, our retirement village in Euroa.
The pilot program will be carried out in partnership with researchers at La Trobe University, including Associate Professor Raelene Wilding (pictured) .
Tim Scott, OCAV’s Chief Operating Officer, said the partnership would explore new territory as very few studies have been conducted using virtual reality technology with seniors.
“I am very excited about the potential that virtual reality offers older people, and this grant will certainly pave the way for looking at social wellbeing literally through a different lens,” Tim Scott said.
Some small trials have shown that the technology can motivate older people to use exercise equipment such as stationary bicycles or kayaks.
“Other studies have suggested that it can provide a useful tool for supporting memory maintenance of people with mild cognitive impairment or dementia,” Mr Scott said.
“There is, however, limited evidence of projects that have explored the potential for VR to improve social engagement among people living in remote rural retirement villages,” he added.
The researchers will work with residents to develop the project with a view to determining what type of VR experiences work best, and to identify improvements that could be introduced to future virtual reality programs designed specifically for over 65s living in rural areas.
“Our hope is that we can show that virtual reality can and does encourage positive ageing not only for Euroa residents but throughout the wider senior community,” Tim Scott said.
One of the most significant challenges for seniors in rural areas, especially those challenged by dementia or physical mobility issues, is social isolation. Maintaining wellbeing can be extremely difficult for seniors who are both geographically and socially isolated.