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3 Ways Virtual Reality Can Help Dementia Patients

By Sohail Ahmed February 16, 2024 Lifestyle

According to a study by the University of Kent in the UK, virtual reality can help people with dementia recall old memories and improve language and reasoning skills often caused by Alzheimer’s.

At the SXSW panel in Austin, Texas, researchers suggested that VR can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation, the two key factors linked to Alzheimer’s.

According to a study by the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, social isolation and loneliness among seniors are associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia.

The use of virtual reality helps doctors study the health conditions of dementia patients by monitoring their behavior when older adults respond to different activities and games.

Here are 3 ways virtual reality can help dementia patients:

1: Avoid Loneliness and Social Isolation

It is common for older adults to feel lonely and socially isolated due to several factors. Some elderly live alone in their homes or care centers, away from family and friends. Others lose their spouse or are homebound because of immobility issues due to an illness or disability.

Loneliness and social isolation are associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia among older adults (according to a 2020 report). AARP Innovation Lab has developed an app (Alcove) to combat loneliness among seniors with dementia.

The app provides a virtual home filled with endless experiences to play games, travel the world, connect with loved ones, get moving, customize your virtual home, and relax. You also have a pet rabbit to play with.

More about ALCOVE.

Read my previous articles here: Mobile Apps For Dementia Patients, Alexa Skills for Dementia Patients, and iPad Gamesfor Dementia Patients.

2: Virtual Reality Promotes Wellness Among Dementia Patients

New research from York University (published in the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease) shows that VR therapy could improve mood and manage symptoms in older adults with dementia.

The key findings suggest:

  • VR therapy can improve mood and manage symptoms among senior dementia patients.
  • Virtual reality helps treat and manage apathy and aggression among dementia patients with cognitive decline.
  • VR therapy improved the quality of life for dementia patients who were unable to leave the hospital room because of mobility issues by stimulating the experience of nature for them.
  • VR therapy has a positive effect on family, professional caregivers and hospital staff dealing with dementia patients.

The typically non-communicative dementia patients showed great progress. They became animated, laughing and making jokes after VR experience with natural scenes and experiencing images and memories from a previous experience like stimulating the environment of the country where they grew up.

3: Virtual Reality Stimulates Memory in Dementia Patients

One of the major symptoms of dementia is memory loss which negatively affects the patient’s ability to perform day-to-day activities. The finding of a recent study suggests that encounters in virtual environments help patients recall old memories.

The participants accessed five different environments using virtual reality including a cathedral, a forest, a sand beach, a rocky beach, and the countryside. The participants remembered a trip they had taken and details like when they saw the bridge in a virtual environment that reminded them of that holiday.

Caregivers also reported improved relationships with patients after the VR experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Seniors Use Virtual Reality?

Seniors can use virtual reality to socialize, engage in new activities, and virtually visit new places. VR technology can be used for entertainment, to ease physical pain by providing distraction, and as positive impact on cognitive functions, including improving attention and visual memory.

Can Virtual Reality Help with Dementia?

Studies highlight many benefits of virtual reality for dementia patients, including reduced anxiety and depression. A study by the University of Kent found that VR can improve the quality of life for dementia patients by helping them recall memories, reduce aggression, and improve their interaction with caregivers.

Can You Play VR in a Wheelchair?

Yes, there are many games and experiences to enjoy through VR while sitting in a wheelchair. You can adjust the camera and settings and choose games with front-facing action to make VR wheelchair-accessible. VR enables wheelchair users to explore historic locations and nature from their chairs.


Numerous studies and statistics highlight the benefits of virtual reality for dementia patients and caregivers. VR vastly improves the quality of life for dementia patients by enabling them to recall memories, reducing aggression, and improving interaction with family and professional caregivers.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you ever considered virtual reality as a way to help people suffering from brain deterioration conditions? Do you have any experience with virtual reality?

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The Author

Sohail Ahmed is a tech enthusiast and a blogger. He is passionate about helping older adults with technology. There are not many senior-friendly websites, devices, and gadgets which makes modern technology complicated for them. Sohail started his blog, Tech & Senior with a mission to make technology easier and fun for seniors.

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