The Aloha VR programme "allows them to forget their chronic pain, anxiety, the fact that they are alone. The company has found a new care modality to bring to a senior care setting like this, to inspire them to live another day, where they're happy," said Dr. Kim.
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Dr. Kim has initiated the programme with 103-year old Virginia Anderlini as her first client. Spending her time in a state-assisted living facility, Anderlini found virtual reality to be a delightful experience. She viewed a Hawaiian beach in the midst of a sunset and surrounded by enormous palm trees, rainbow specks and volcanic rocks. "Hey, that's really pretty!" she said.
Dr. Kim hopes that such virtual reality experiences will take away the pain and the loneliness that comes with old age. Her determination to help the elderly started after she met an old patient who said 'No one loves me. No one cares about me. I don't matter anymore. Why should I eat, why should I drink, why should I live? I just want to die today.' That experience led her to found One Caring Team a couple of years ago and the Aloha VR programme is an offshoot of that initiative.
"There are over 100 clinical research papers that are already published that show proven positive clinical outcomes using VR in managing chronic pain, anxiety and depression. And in dementia patients, all those three elements are very common," said Dr Kim. Her initial experiments with VR for the elderly at a preventive care conference convinced her that virtual reality was indeed the way forward.
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Apart from helping the elderly, Dr Kim also runs group therapy sessions at assisted living shelters where people take turns experiencing virtual reality on headsets, and as per Dr Kim, all off them return home with smiles on their faces. She keeps showing new virtual reality experiences to the elderly so that they get to see new places and landscapes and stay interested in the programme.
Dr. Kim's greatest challenge is those who have been affected by Dementia. "Dementia patients often feel lost, because they feel that they don't belong anywhere. They may be confused about their surroundings or who they are, or estranged from family members overwhelmed by their care. By giving them a beautiful beach, I want them to feel found again," she said.