VR Is Helping People With Alzheimer’s Revive Memories
The first Wayback VR film of a planned series immerses patients in Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation
The Wayback project is a virtual reality film that helps people with Alzheimer’s and dementia reconnect to key moments in their lives as a way to alleviate the emotional toll of the disease. It was a collective effort that included production company Thomas Thomas Films, agency Grey London, effects studio MPC, cast and crew volunteers, experts in dementia care, including Dr. David Sheard, and the supporters of a Kickstarter campaign.
The first VR film in the planned series recreates, in painstaking detail, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1953, which the filmmakers hope will trigger a memory in the viewer. Other recreations are in the pipeline, and the creators are looking into additional partnerships and funding.
Dr. Sheard said in a statement that the “virtual reality film offers those living with dementia the opportunity to live in the moment, to go back in time and to just ‘be’ again. People don’t just remember their past memories, they feel the emotions that went with them. The biggest risk to someone living with dementia is to feel a loss of self esteem, to have no purpose, to feel unreached and not connected with. The Wayback enables families to see the person is not lost to dementia but able to still experience and feel being who they were and share those memories with them.”