HomeAgain VR: A Nonprofit that Offers Virtual Reality to Seniors
“Gosh, that’s beautiful,” Carrie says as she gazes out at the shimmering lake surrounded by fields of blueberry bushes. “You almost want to jump out and get one of those water lilies. I bet they smell so good.”
From her wheelchair in the hospice center, Carrie looks left and right, then up and down, marveling at the breathtaking view. “I can’t get over it. It just looks so real!”
Though she is unable to walk unaided and will likely never make a physical trip to the gorgeous Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm, Carrie was able to experience it as though she had.
HomeAgain VR Foundation is a nonprofit whose mission is to bring VR to seniors and to people with restricted mobility.
“Giving people the opportunity to try out a virtual reality headset has been more rewarding than I could have anticipated,” explained Alex, a HomeAgain VR volunteer. “There is something truly amazing about seeing someone in memory care go from being agitated and cranky to positively grinning from ear to ear after a VR session.”
In addition to hospice and memory care, HomeAgain VR visits independent living, assisted living, and private homes to offer the residents a look into virtual reality and the doors it can open to new forms of engagement. Their VR sessions allow participants to explore destinations around the world, visit hometowns, play immersive games, create artwork, connect with friends and family, or relax amidst beautiful scenery and peaceful music.
After relaxing on icebergs, flying over cities, and exploring coral reefs, assisted living resident Tim happily described his reaction. “It gave me the experience of things and places that I wouldn’t have gone or couldn’t have gone and I enjoyed it immensely. Fabulous experience.”
HomeAgain VR aims to help people and communities adopt and sustain VR programs for the ongoing benefit of the residents. “We love providing our own VR activities as a way to engage seniors,” said Katherine Mahon, Founder of HomeAgain VR. “But the best case scenario, the biggest win for us is when we see communities – the staff and the residents – learning to use and adopt VR for themselves so that they won’t always need us there.”
To learn more about HomeAgain VR visit their website at homeagainvr.org. They currently offer a free introductory demo to any community or household who is interested in VR for the benefit of their senior residents.