June 20, 2023

Surprise and Delight as Residents of Long-Term Care Home Go Virtual

Every June is Seniors' Month in Ontario and every year there is a different theme for organizations to use when planning seniors events or communications. This year's theme is "Working with Seniors" - so here at North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services (NSM SGS) we decided to focus on how current technology might help improve or maintain the care and well-being of older adults.

On June 13th NSM SGS and IOOF Barrie held an interactive session for older adults focused on some of the current technology options. From virtual reality to Google Hubs and Amazon Alexas, the participants were able to access information and entertainment quickly and easily.

Gloria, an IOOF resident, was thrilled to participate in the demonstration and was particularly fascinated with the virtual reality headset. She experienced a trip to outer space and commented that she ‘was above the stars’ and ‘literally out of this world”. She also thought it was amazing that a 95 year old could visit the International Space Station!

According to summer student Nic, his a-ha! moment was hearing Gloria speak about the Google Hubs and Amazon Alexas that were being demonstrated.

“We talk a lot about the potential impacts of these devices and how we think people will use them, but when Gloria sat in front of the two devices and said - “I need one of these in my room”- I was very curious as to why. She said her room doesn’t have a TV and she has no way of communicating with her family, apart from a landline. She said a device like Google Hub or Amazon Alexa would work perfectly because she could watch TV or communicate with her family by using one device for everything.

She also said that she makes notes of things she needs to do or medications she needs to take, but to have a voice reminding you to do these things, would make it a whole lot easier. I never considered these devices for use as an all in one communications / entertainment / personal assistant, but I suppose they are actually the perfect device to fill all those needs.”

Wearable technology, that can keep older adults safe, was also on display.

  • Apple AirTag - acts as a locator, in the event that an individual needs support
  • Apple Watch - can send a notification to a family member if their loved one falls or has a health emergency
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch - fall detection capabilities and other medical uses

Media Coverage

To watch the Barrie CTV video from the June 13th event: https://barrie.ctvnews.ca/seniors-in-long-term-care-home-escape-reality-with-immersive-program-1.6439840

To listen to Nic and Recreational Therapist Jenna Davis speak with CBC Ontario Morning host Ramraajh Sharvendiran about the June 13th event: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-112-ontario-morning-from-cbc-radio/clip/15992214-seniors-begin-taking-virtual-reality.

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