Background:
The number of elderly age groups are on the rise and expected to double from 12% to 22 % by 2050, as predicted by WHO. Taiwan is one of the rapidly ageing societies. Ageing is a complex process and needs more attention to deal with to aid prevent complications, provide healthy living conditions and prolong lives. The ageing population probably reside in old age homes or are living alone or with their children who are pre-occupied with busy schedules. Thus, they are prone to depression owing to loneliness, dementia, chronic ailments, lack of motivation to carry out daily activities, etc.
Virtual Reality (VR) seems to offers plenty of possibilities for the elderly population. The technology has arrived at the right time with mobile devices already being widely used to achieve active ageing. Virtual reality not only offers brain exercise but also helps them become motivated towards exercise. Use of these devices among the elderly can aid in mitigating ageing problems through distraction, encouragement, inspiration, relaxation etc. Indeed, more research is needed to provide the scientific evidence on the actual usefulness of the VR in rehab and keeping elderly motivated for active participation in the mental and physical activities.
The objective of the study is to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of the VR as a tool to improve Mental and Physical wellbeing for Active Ageing.

Methods:
This pilot is an ongoing study at the active ageing center i.e. living lab established by researchers of Taipei Medical University to translate their knowledge and skills to the actual community setting. We are recruiting about 50 elderly adults (age >60 years, male and female), ask them to use VR for 15 minutes twice a week for 12 weeks. The acceptance of VR will be evaluated by the questionnaire using Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). We also plan to have a discussion with them to understand if they are willing to use VR for mitigating the problems while ageing such as dementia, depression and as a motivational tool to improve physical activities. The TAM model would eventually help determine how the elderly come to accept and use the technology.

We assume VR has a wide range of long-term care applications for the elderly population. They would be benefited to deal with isolation, despondency and inspired through different VR programs giving them the experience of mini vacations, a stroll through their memories, exploring scenic and other places that they would admire and wishes to visit. Physical activity could be encouraged through various VR gamification programs for the elderly, inspirational videos, thus motivating them to carry out daily activities.
If the user feedback and other issues are considered in future developments, it would be useful in mitigating ageing related physical and mental health problems. By 10th Dec we anticipate having some preliminary results to be shared at the AIMed conference.

 

ROBOTIC TECHNOLOGY & VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS

Author: Shabbir Syed-Abdul

Coauthor(s): Shwetambara Kekade International Center for Health Information Technology, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan Email: sv14.kekade@gmail.com Chia-Chi (Angela) Chang School of Gerontology and Health Management, Taipei Medical University, Taipei Taiwan. Email:cchang@tmu.edu.tw Megan F. Liu School of Gerontology Health Management, College of Nursing, Taipei Medical University, Taipei Taiwan. Email: fangliu@tmu.edu.tw Corresponding Author: Prof. Yu-Chuan Li International Center for Health Information Technology, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan. Graduate Institute of Biomedical Informatics, Taipei Medical University, 15F., No. 172-1, Sec. 2, Keelung Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei, Taiwan Tel. Office: +886 2-6638-2736 Extn.1514, Fax: +886 (2) 2738 7795 Email: jaak88@gmail.com

Status: Work In Progress

Funding Acknowledgment: This project is partially funded by grant VR4Aging TMU-T106-04 and MOHW106-TDU-B-212-144001.