Social isolation is one of the main drawbacks of getting older. It may be hard to imagine the elderly smiling and laughing while wearing a virtual reality headset. Yet, this is precisely the shared experience Rendever offers, bringing back fond memories to those in need of cognitive and social connections.
By wearing a virtual headset, seniors now have the possibility to tour the world and visit places they may never have been before. They can also be brought back to their family home and bring back happy memories. Virtual reality is the ultimate fountain of youth for people living mainly isolated from social and world cues.
Renderer is on a path to change how virtual reality can be used to slow down dementia and create new bonds with people from all over the world.
How is Rendever changing Senior Living Facilities one VR experience at the time?
Advised by the MIT Agelab, the startup founded in 2016 by MIT Alumni aims to open wide the doors of assisted living facilities and let older adults visit meaningful places and landmarks without leaving their assisted living community.
Reed Hay, Dennis Lally, Kyle Rand, and Thomas Neumann founded the company with the vision of offering senior living residents a way to escape loneliness and reduce depression and cognitive decline. Thanks to the power of virtual reality technology.
According to Kyle Rand, the current CEO who studied Neurosciences at Duke University: “People pay a lot of money to offer their loved ones the opportunity to live in senior communities…and then they sit around watching TV and not engaging with the world. It’s sad and also dangerous. If you spend years watching TV and doing little outside of that, there will inevitably be some cognitive decline.” (Retrieved from VRx: How Virtual Therapeutics Will Revolutionize Medicine by Brennan Spiegel, Check on Amazon.)
The Baseline of the company is “Expanding Worlds,” and this is precisely what they do. Digital Health VR therapy allows senior residents to improve their mental health, share stories with the other residents and bring sparkling lights and joy to senior care facilities.
Especially during the Covid 19 pandemic, Rendever’s virtual reality platform allowed an aging population to maintain needed contacts with their loved ones.
The company delivered close to one million virtual reality experiences to thousands of older adults in the last five years. The underlying scientific principles are based on a new approach to cognitive decline: Reminiscence Therapy associated with Virtual Reality Technology is a wedding made in heaven to stimulate the limbic system and bring back memories to the elderly.
What is Reminiscence Therapy?
Reminiscence Therapy is based on the principle that cherishes memories or objects can trigger positive responses in older adults suffering from gradual identity loss commonly found in patients who have dementia or Mild-Cognitive Impairments.
This approach is not new, and more than one hundred years ago, Marce Proust, the French author, in his book “In Search of Lost Time,” described how the taste and smell of simple madeleines were enough to trigger fond childhood memories. Likewise, most of us felt overwhelmed by memories when seeing, tasting, or smelling a particular element.
A VR platform cannot yet provide such multisensorial experiences, but the approach chosen by Rendever is the first step towards cognitive improvements.
Especially in a senior living community, sharing an experience such as visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Yosemite park, or swimming with dolphins improved communication.
What are the future paths for Rendever?
Beyond the shared visits in virtual reality, Rendever has expanded its offer to new avenues.
Fitness is proven to have very positive impacts on both the mind and the body. With RendeverFit™, the company combines physical activity with cognitive fitness and social engagement to offer comprehensive stimulation.
This new offer is planned to be released soon to assisted living facilities and will include three modules:
- Cycles: Participants will exercise on a stationary bike while looking at various landscapes. For having exercised with a virtual headset, the experience does not come without hurdles. In our case, the sweat produced by the activity and the heat produced with the googles were bothersome and tended to fog the lenses. We do hope that Rendever found intelligent ways to limit these issues.
- Paddle: For discovering and exploring remote islands while paddling in a group,
- Paint: An interactive to paint and express creativity while exercising in a virtual environment.
One of the benefits of RendeverLive™ is that it creates a routine to limit social isolation. The company offers 10 hours per month of planned sessions, including guided meditation, laughter yoga, and world travel.
The participants can interact in real-time with residents from other communities—the ultimate virtual bingo time.
EnvisionHome™ is far from a therapeutic tool but is surfing on the trend of virtual visits. Families can virtually explore a prospective assisted living facility.
This last application is not medically orientated but proves that the company is business orientated and is looking for ways to diversify its income streams. Always a good point for a startup!
To wrap up
Rendever Team is passionate about the benefits of virtual reality technology for a reason. It works and provides some sunshine to the elderly, sadly living their dawn of life lost in dissolving memories of a happy past.
Rendever unveils new ways to decrease loneliness and cognitive decline. Fighting age-related Cognitive impairment with a virtual reality platform may appear a bold proposition, but the facts speak for themselves.
Two hundred fifty communities have adopted the company platform with a retention rate of over 96% beyond two years.