CAMARILLO, Calif. — The Camarillo Health Care District is combating isolation and depression with a new virtual reality program. Anne Marie Widick has traveled the world without actually going anywhere.
Climbing a massive ice mountain in Antarctica, Widick sets off on a thrilling expedition to search for a lost penguin colony.
“When they said they had Virtual Reality here at the Camarillo Health Care district, I was fascinated. I didn’t know what to expect until the first day I came in. You’re traveling, you’re going places, you’re experiencing things,” Widick said.
In just a few minutes, Widick has already navigated around icebergs, visited Rome and Paris.
“I feel like I’ve seen something else besides Camarillo. You know. That I’ve traveled the world,” Widick said.
Widick is one of dozens of seniors who participated in the new virtual reality immersive program that is being offered at the Camarillo Health Care District. CEO of the district, Kara Ralston, said virtual travel can provide a much-needed escape for the elderly. According to the National Library of Medicine, virtual reality has proven to be a powerful technology for treating mental health.
“This is changing their world. There are many different reasons why people can’t get out anymore or travel anymore and so virtual reality lets them travel still,” Ralston said.
For Widick, traveling hasn’t been an option. She takes care of her husband, who is disabled and so they’ve never been able to get on a plane to go anywhere, but that’s not an issue anymore. Today she was able to finally visit Canada and see the home she grew up in.
“I was able to find the house, and it’s like a street scene, so I could see the house and it was amazing! It was very nostalgic,” Widick said.
But she said she still has a lot to see.
“There’s a lot of places I want to go and going virtual is the most feasible thing,” Widick said.
And so, she’s planning on coming back until she’s able to say she’s seen the world.
The Camarillo Health Care district will have their next VR Adventures in January and are still taking applications. If you are interested in registering, you can call them at 805-388-1952 ext.100.