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‘Out of this world’: New technology set to help local seniors

The lead agency is Waypoint Center for Mental Health Care which works collaboratively with partners to support frail older adults and their caregivers

“I’m out of this world, that’s for sure,” said Gloria Howe, describing her virtual reality experience at Barrie’s IOOF Seniors Homes on Tuesday afternoon.

North Simcoe Muskoka (NSM) Specialized Geriatric Services program, in collaboration with the IOOF, held an interactive presentation showing the impact of technology on the care provided to older adults in the region.

NSM hopes to help revolutionize the way older adults connect with their loved ones, ensure their safety and introduce them to immersive nostalgic experiences.

Betty Munro, 93, also an IOOF resident, like Howe, experienced virtual reality on the International Space Station with the Meta Quest 2 headset.

“I thought it was absolutely fantastic, it’s amazing,” she said. “I saw the Earth from above.

“To see something like that at my age is phenomenal,” Munro added. “I saw the space station and the clouds. Just moving slow. It was very relaxing.”

Recreation therapists, as well as residents themselves, tried some of the available technology at the Brooke Street facility to better understand how it can be integrated into their everyday lives.

As part of this initiative, older adults live in long-term care homes and in the community are being provided with devices.

They include Google Nest Hub, Google Nest Mini, Alexa Show, Apple AirTag, and Meta Quest virtual reality headsets. They could open up a world of possibilities for older adults by enabling video chats with family and friends, providing access to information through voice commands and facilitating entertainment through immersive experiences.

Jenna Davis, a recreational therapist with NSM, works with frail older adults in the community, in long-term care and retirement homes.

Also one client in her 70s who lives in a remote area where she really enjoys going out for walks.

“Now that she’s having increased cognitive impairment, her daughter is more and more concerned about her going out on her own for those walks,” Davis said. “So in order to maintain her autonomy and her independence and continue to go for those walks, because we know walking and physical activity is really good for overall well-being and physical health, but also mental health, we are giving her an Apple AirTag to put on her person.

“We’re going to make sure when she goes out for those walks, that she

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