Last week I was swimming with dolphins. I wasn’t in a pool. I was wearing a VR headset.
It was amazing. Dolphins all around me. I looked to my right to see one edging closer to get a better look at me. Not alarming. Quite restful. And really, really fun.
People ask me how we are going to introduce VR to people living with dementia.
Carefully, I answer.
When it comes to VR and its value in for people living with memory loss and dementia, we have much to learn. What is their VR experience? What is its impact? Then what? How do we go from the perceived isolation of the headsets to connection and community? In partnership with the innovative folks at Silver Kite Community Arts, we hope to learn more.
The core of the program is VR Discovery Events. Each session will enable up to 12 individuals to experience VR in a guided, collaborative environment—collaborating on a fictional narrative story/poem inspired by their experience with the headsets, accompanied by pre/post activities with painting, drawing, dance/movement, music, or collage.
We will also hold focus groups—in depth sessions with persons with memory loss, inviting them to take part in a VR experience and share their thoughts, reactions and recommendations.
In the meantime, I wish I had a headset to bring to my Aunt Louise. When I visit, she is usually on the verge of sleep. When roused, she listens quietly with a smile but seems to be inexorably disengaging from life around her. Maybe VR would make a difference. I want to find out.
Art: “Sea Creatures” by Gloria Kinney.