Dementia Friends Champion Helen Morris offers some thoughts on people living with dementia and virtual reality headsets
Anyone following the ‘Five Year Forward’ strategy in the NHS will be pleased to see there is more emphasis being placed on helping people who have mental health problems.
The statistics tell us that 1 in 3 people will, at some point in their life, experience a mental health problem and certainly the stigma around mental health is diminishing as the understanding of how our brain works improves.
It is good also to see that ‘talking therapies’ and meditation are starting to score serious success rates in reducing stress and depression.
However, attention does not seem to be directed towards those people who are already battling with a debilitating mental condition, for which there is no cure.
I am going in two directions with this:
a) I see more people now with dementia who are clearly depressed and/or anxious but nothing seems to be possible to alleviate their upset. Interventions will probably be forgotten and medical solutions are now frowned upon.
b) Virtual Reality headsets are appearing everywhere now – even fashion shop windows! But is that appropriate for people who are living with dementia? Are we not just cutting them off even more?
I would honestly have had serious concerns about applying those frightening, Sci-Fi looking appliances to the faces of my friends with dementia but recently I saw a video which made me think again.
The joy and happiness expressed by people who tried it out for a few minutes was incredible. They were delighted, much more relaxed and seemed grateful.
Maybe these appliances can provide regular doses of entertainment and visual euphoria for people with dementia?
Online retail prices appear to vary from £20 to £500 but then I am no expert about the different capabilities and content and some seem to require a compatible smartphone.
I do think it pays to keep an open mind though and if these strange units bring the joy and relaxation I witnessed on this video then it certainly needs more research. To watch the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3ywcoqR4Co
Call Helen Morris, Dementia Friends Champion, to run a session for your group: 07976 702171.