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Melbourne Nursing Home Uses Virtual Reality Opera to Aid Dementia Patients

One patient, Evelin Costello, says she was brought back to a time when she and her husband used to attend shows.

A virtual reality opera is being used in a Melbourne nursing home to aid with dementia, ABC News reports.

Dementia patients put on VR goggles and can watch the performance from any angle by moving their heads.

One patient, Evelin Costello, says she was brought back to a time when she and her husband used to attend shows.

"That was beautiful. It felt like he was there with me, with David when he was alive," she said. "We went to all those shows and enjoyed ourselves."

Costello is just one of a handful of residents at Melbourne's Nellie Melba Retirement Village who watched the performance this week.

Research done by Monash University showed that the use of VR in aged care could engaged residents who might otherwise isolate themselves. Arcade-style game technology is also being used to trial a new exercise program in four aged care homes in Victoria and New South Wales.

Darren Vukasinovic, the founder of the program Inverse, says that he believes VR works in a similar way to music therapy to stimulate the memory.

"Seeing them clap and laugh and some try to get up and dance - I think that's more than we could hope for," he said. "I briefed the residents and said, 'Look if you're feeling vertigo just take your headset off'. Not one of them took their headset off. They were all in there for the full 20 minutes. They took it off and they were exhilarated. I think it breaks the stereotypes about acceptability to technology as well."

The opera recital that the patients watched starred Melba Opera Trust alumni Stacey Alleaume, Nathan Lay, Michael Petruccelli and internationally renowned pianist Amir Farid. It was their first performance in eight months due to the health crisis.

Read more on ABC News.


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