It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re a senior and can no longer travel.
Carleigh Berryman grew up watching her granny, Glenda, travel extensively throughout her 70s. She loved to visit national parks, and being active was a big part of her life. As she aged, doing her favorite activities became more and more challenging. Eventually, she became housebound.
One day in 2017, Glenda told Carleigh something that the young woman said, “shook me awake.”
“Some days I don’t even know why I bother getting out of bed, because I know I’ve got nothing going on,” Glenda told her.
The recent college graduate got to thinking about aging, depression, and the effects of isolation. She realized that the elderly are often overlooked in our society, and she aimed to find a way to use technology to engage and stimulate this forgotten generation.
“These older generations aren’t always paid the attention they deserve or given that respect, or given the care they really need,” she said. “I think it’s our responsibility as younger of our generations regardless of our age, to take care of the people who came before us.”
Carleigh settled on virtual reality technology that allows a user to “step into a television” and travel to any time, place, or galaxy they choose.
In 2019, Carleigh started a company called Viva Vita, which brings virtual reality to senior citizen centers across the nation. Before COVID, Carleigh and her team would go directly to the senior centers to fit goggle headsets on residents themselves.
The business was derailed when nursing homes stopped allowing visitors during the pandemic, but they quickly pivoted and now send the VR kits out by mail. They now offer a turn-key VR subscription package that retirement communities can orchestrate themselves.
The idea behind VR is to make the world accessible to seniors again. Studies have shown that this technology can help fight depression and isolation, two big problems faced by seniors both before, and especially after, the pandemic.
Carleigh’s grandmother was one of the first test subjects, and she absolutely loved it.
“It gave her a way to continue to travel and connect to the world, and it was a great activity she could do on her own,” Carleigh explained.
Viva Vita offers both relaxation and travel experiences to improve mental wellness and quality of life.
“Your brain begins to believe that you really have traveled, that you really have left,” she added.
After their COVID setback, Viva Vita is once again going full-steam ahead! They’ve already sent VR kits to retirement communities in 41 states in the U.S., and they have no plans to slow down on their mission to keep seniors active and engaged!
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