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Fulfilling End-of-Life Wishes Through Virtual Reality

virtual reality end of life

As humans, it’s natural to seek adventure and fulfillment. From visiting foreign cities to completing a great feat of strength, most people have hopes and dreams that they wish to achieve in their lifetime. And unfortunately, for many people nearing the end of their lives, it’s common to have a few of these dreams and goals still left unfulfilled.

But what if today’s technology could change that?

With the latest technology in virtual reality, hospice patients around the world are checking off bucket list items from the comfort of their own homes. Not only that, but virtual reality has proven capabilities to aid in their treatment as well. And while these types of treatments aren’t currently a part of the care plans with Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care, it’s important to understand the latest technologies that are emerging in the industry. This particular trend could potentially prove to be an invaluable resource for both hospice patients and beyond.

Experiencing Life Through a New Lens

It’s no secret that technology has the ability to connect us in incredible ways. But the opportunity to experience once-in-a-lifetime moments from the comfort of one’s own home can change the lives of many. In a recent report from ABC Action News, some of those astounding opportunities are brought to light.

In Florida, a 79-year-old man who is homebound with lung disease is swimming with dolphins, fulfilling his dream to see Big Ben, and returning to the farm that he grew up on, all from the safety and comfort of his couch. The patient says: “What a blessing this is for people who can’t get out.” As his caregiver stands by, it’s clear that this opportunity is both therapeutic and positive for this patient.

Virtual reality gear can be used in other ways to help improve the lives of hospice patients. This report from CommonHealth explains how this technology can be used to aid nurses, students, and hospice workers in learning about and empathizing with patients who are nearing the end of life. These simulations are often called “empathy machines” and allow workers or students to experience difficult diagnoses that many of their patients face.

The use of virtual reality in hospice care can help to heal emotional pain of patients as well as teach empathy and understanding to caregivers and medical professionals. But it also has been found that physical healing qualities and medical benefits can result from the technology as well.

virtual reality hospice

Providing Pain Relief and Immersive Learning Opportunities

Beyond bringing new perspectives to hospice patients and professionals, virtual reality technology has also proven to have positive therapeutic qualities. In a 2012 study with stroke patients, the use of VR therapy showed improvements in upper limb mobility over a three week period.

In addition to assisting with mobility in stroke patients, these technologies have shown benefits for patients in need of general pain management. This technology can provide relief from chronic pain that can be potentially life changing for patients:

For medical professionals, it has proven to help them study and experience surgery. The use of this technology is thought to not only give students a view of what the surgeon is doing, but what surgery is like, down to the noise and atmosphere. This 2016 report from The Guardian states that it’s meant to allow medical students and trainees to “immerse themselves in the procedure in real time.

As technology continues to advance, it’s safe to assume that the capabilities of virtual reality technology will only bring more opportunities for learning in the medical field and for patients looking to experience new journeys during their time in hospice or palliative care. When it comes to fulfilling end-of-life wishes, providing those special experiences can make all the difference. 

To learn more about Crossroads’ mission to help each and every patient live their best life, visit our website of call us at 1-888-564-3405.


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