Award Date: 2021
Project Lead(s): Lora Appel, Assistant Professor of Health Informatics
Project Title: VRx@Home: Evaluating the Impact of Immersive Virtual Reality Therapy on the Wellbeing of Caregivers and People with Dementia Living at Home
This project team is designing and rigorously evaluating the first Virtual Reality (VR) therapy program for people with Alzheimer’s/dementia (PwAD) living at home, administered by their informal caregivers. VR therapy is a drug-free approach to reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s/dementia such as apathy, feelings of loneliness, sundowning, and the use of harmful sedating medications. Caregivers of PwAD are more likely to feel worried, tired, overwhelmed, and depressed than non-PwAD caregivers. Managing symptoms may help PwAD remain in their home for longer and improve quality of life for them and their caregivers. VR therapy also has the potential to reduce the healthcare needs of caregivers, allowing them to continue providing support to PwAD. This project will measure the impact of VR therapy in a randomized controlled trial assessing its feasibility, sustainability, and scalability.