A Mini-Review of Virtual Reality-Based Interventions to Promote Well-Being for People Living with Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment

Nathan M D'Cunha, Dung Nguyen, Nenad Naumovski, Andrew J McKune, Jane Kellett, Ekavi N Georgousopoulou, Jane Frost, Stephen Isbel

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Abstract

Assistive technology including virtual reality and augmented reality has gained interest as a novel intervention in a range of clinical settings. This technology has the potential to provide mental stimulation, a connection to autobiographical memory through reminiscence, and enhanced quality of life (QoL) to people living with dementia (PLWD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In this mini-review, we examine the available evidence from studies reporting on the potential benefits of virtual and augmented reality to provide enjoyable, leisurely activities that may promote QoL and psychological well-being and facilitate social interaction. In total, 10 studies of varying study designs and durations (5 min to 6 months) using virtual (n = 9) and augmented reality (n = 1) were examined in PLWD (n = 6) and MCI (n= 3), in addition to 1 study that included participants with both conditions. Overall, the virtual experiences were enjoyed by the participants, improved their mood and apathy, and were preferred when compared with nonvirtual experiences. However, small sample sizes and variations in study design limit the generalizability of the results. Nevertheless, the use of virtual and augmented reality technology for PLWD and MCI is a novel and emerging method which may provide cognitive stimulation and improve well-being. Future research should explore the potential application of this technology to promote social interaction in both the community and aged care settings. We suggest future studies in PLWD and MCI assess the effects of more sustained use of virtual and augmented reality technology on psychological outcomes including QoL, apathy, and depressive symptoms, with the incorporation of physiological biomarker outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-440
Number of pages11
JournalGerontology
Volume65
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

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