High-tech and older adults may not go together in many people’s minds, but a pilot program at Fairview's senior services arm, Ebenezer, may be changing that. Virtual reality technology is helping residents there reduce stress, anxiety and promote well-being.
A recent study completed at the Ebenezer's Minneapolis Campus proved that virtual reality can have a positive impact on the residents' state of mind.
“We are just scratching the surface of how virtual reality technology can help the individuals we serve at Ebenezer,” said Joel Prevost, Ebenezer campus director. “Not only can it alleviate the effects of anxiety and depression, but it can help residents feel more relaxed and calm.”
The study engaged participants in seven to 11 minutes of virtual reality content twice a week for four weeks—exposing residents to faraway, exotic locations or once-in-a-lifetime performances—experiences never deemed possible before.
Participants reported their well-being before and after the virtual reality sessions. A full 100 percent of participants reported they enjoyed the experience, and they also reported feeling happier (96 percent), more relaxed (97 percent) and more positive (98 percent).
Virtual reality also helped participants feel less worried—residents felt more calm after a session.
Using virtual reality also made a positive impact on everyday activities like socializing with neighbors or attending religious services. This is called the “spill-over effect". Participants said they enjoyed those activities even more when combined with virtual reality.
But most importantly, Ebenezer participants enjoyed the experience.
“I was lucky enough to experience virtual reality. When I tried this program, I was very relaxed and it helped with my anxiety. Thank you for this opportunity."
Plans are underway to include virtual reality technology within the Life Long Learning program. Ebenezer’s Life Long Learning initiative is a collection of coordinated arts and education programs designed to foster growth and creativity—music, visual arts, creative writing and now, virtual reality.
The virtual reality project was funded in part by generous donations to the Ebenezer Society Foundation. To ensure these innovative programs are available for all residents and seniors we serve, make your tax-deductible gift today!
Ebenezer is the senior services arm of Fairview Health Services, providing community-centered care for over 100 years. For more information about Ebenezer and the services they provide, visit EbenezerCares.org.