Medindia

X

Virtual Reality may Help Treat Anxiety in Older People

by Bidita Debnath on  February 18, 2015 at 12:05 AM Mental Health News   - G J E 4
Nearly 25 percent of people aged 65 and over experience varying degrees of anxiety.
Virtual Reality may Help Treat Anxiety in Older People
Virtual Reality may Help Treat Anxiety in Older People
Advertisement

Although cognitive behavioural therapy is a preferred treatment approach, it has limitations as people age (decreased mobility and visualization skills). Could virtual reality be an effective therapy for anxiety in older people? This novel therapeutic avenue for this clientele seems promising, according to a literature review conducted by the team of Sébastien Grenier, PhD, a researcher at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM) and a research professor at Université de Montréal.

Advertisement
One technique of cognitive behavioral therapy consists of getting people to confront their anxiety by exposing them to mental images, objects or situations that trigger their fear, and continuing the process until this reaction decreases. People may physically travel to a location or just imagine the stressful situation (such as flying or getting sick).

Dr. Grenier explained the benefit of the virtual approach for older adults: "As people age, their ability to create mental images and their abstraction skills get weaker. For seniors, imagining intangible or abstract situations therefore becomes more and more difficult. Virtual reality exposes people to the source of their anxiety without having to physically go somewhere else or imagine their fear. This could be an additional treatment tool for therapists," he suggested. This novel approach holds particular promise because it is non-pharmacological and free of significant side effects.

Currently, Dr. Grenier is conducting a pilot study to test the feasibility of this approach. However, a number of trials must be conducted before it can be applied in a clinical setting. Will older people be comfortable with this technology? Will they believe in the simulation? Will they be more susceptible to cybersickness?

Dr. Grenier has received support from the Quebec Network for Research on Aging (RQRV) to launch the pilot study. The literature review was published in International Psychogeriatrics in September 2014.

Source: Medindia
Advertisement

Post your Comments

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
User Avatar
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
Notify me when reply is posted I agree to the terms and conditions

You May Also Like

Advertisement
View All