Virtual reality enhancing life for Lexington seniors

Kendal at Lexington using MyndVR to increase engagement

LEXINGTON, Va. – Residents at a senior living community in Southwest Virginia are using new technology to take trips to Paris, attend concerts or enjoy a day at the beach.

Kendal at Lexington is the first senior living community in Virginia to buy and start using the MyndVR program, which was developed by a Dallas-based company in partnership with the University of Texas and Samsung.

The program allows users to enjoy a variety of video experiences, including travel, pets, nature, music and art, learning and action.

Kendal at Lexington plans to use the virtual reality therapy program to enhance residents' daily life.

"If they've gotten to a point where their limitations are too large to be able to get out on their own and do things that they used to love to do, then this can provide them that opportunity," said Shannon Khalifa, Kendal at Lexington's resident life program coordinator.

"Our plans are to use it for folks who need more sensory stimulation, and it might also help them with reminiscence," Khalifa said.

"If there's just anyone who has an interest in learning more about the virtual reality, or learning about any of the programs on the system, then that's just going to enhance their quality of life," Khalifa said.

Residents use head and eye movements to control what they see. Kendal at Lexington staff can also use a controller to help residents who have a hard time navigating the system by themselves.

"People can stir up memories if they're watching a travel video to somewhere they've seen, or they can be learning about that video for the first time," Khalifa said.

Dick Minnix, a retired physics professor, chose to watch a video on the history of flight.

"I thought it was spectacular," Minnix said. "It showed a number of shots, different vantage points. I particularly liked that the view changes as you rotate right and left, up and down."

Sarah Giddings enjoyed a video on American ghost towns.

"It was just an interesting thing to do and an interesting experiment in travel," Giddings said.

Kendal at Lexington plans to start using the technology this month with five to 10 residents as a part of a pilot program, before expanding the program further.

"For people who can't get out and about, I think it can be a real help," Minnix said. 

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