ST. LOUIS — Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) is expanding access to innovative virtual reality experiences for older adults thanks to funding awarded by the Consumer Technology Association® Foundation to Lutheran Services in America (LSA).
As a Lutheran Services in America member, LSS will use the grant to address social isolation amongst home-bound older adults in underserved communities through the adoption of virtual reality technology that provides immersive shared experiences for older adults and their caregivers in home and community-based settings in the Missouri counties of Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis.
“Through technology, we can transport someone to the Great Barrier Reef, or have them experience the sensation of skydiving, or even take them back to their childhood home,” said Adam Marles, President and CEO of LSS. “This grant and partnership with LSA will provide many benefits to older adults.”
Alesia Freichs, President and CEO of LSA agrees. “We recognize the importance of using innovative approaches to address social isolation, which is widespread and has devastating effects on the physical and emotional health of older adults and their caregivers. Isolated older adults benefit from the sense of community that this innovative technology brings. Lutheran Senior Services is a leader in this area, and we are proud to work together in partnership.”
The grant also provides family caregivers with access to virtual reality devices to meaningfully connect with the outside world alongside their care recipients. Family caregivers assist with the physical and social needs of their loved ones, often at the expense of their own health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers caregiving an “important public health issue” and has found that more than half of family caregivers report a decline in their own health, which impacts their ability to provide care to their loved ones.
“Integrating technology into our services is just as vital for the well-being of the caregiver as it is for the person receiving care. We’re looking forward to providing new, engaging opportunities for older adults and caregivers to experience together and create shared memories,” said Marles.
The 2023 grant is the fourth consecutive year of deepening investment from the Consumer Technology Association Foundation in LSA initiatives to support older adults and caregivers in underserved communities.