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Our friends at Milton Public Library used their Rendever system to bring residents of Revera Birkdale Place Retirement Community all over the world, including a stroll down memory lane. Read below, or read the original article here.


A high-tech stroll down memory lane

Birkdale seniors enjoy seeing their old homes, sharing memories with friends

Revera Birkdale Place Retirement Residence teamed up with Milton Public Library to provide residents with a virtual reality view of the homes they used to live. Here Nancy Gooderham (left) and Dorothy Smythe check out their homes. – Julie Slack/Metroland

From the jungles of Africa to their old addresses where they grew up, it was fun and laughter for a group of seniors earlier this summer.

Revera Birkdale Place Retirement Residence participated in a special virtual reality (VR) project with the Milton Public Library (MPL).

MPL is working with Rendever, (rendever.com) a company that specializes in bringing VR technology into retirement residences. They brought five pairs of VR headsets to Birkdale residents for an afternoon of visiting their old neighbourhood streets.

For residents, it gave them a chance to reminisce and share among their friends what their homes looked like.

The VR headsets help seniors enjoy scenes and places where the physical limitations many seniors face could prevent them from travelling to.

They don’t need to leave the building to take a trip to the French countryside, soar through Yosemite National Park and explore the depths of the ocean, all thanks to virtual reality.

In the case of Birkdale residents, they enjoyed a safari tour, along with the streets they grew up on.

Most of the touring is done through Google Maps footage, but they also showcase 360-degree films.

The activity helped to build conversation and socialization because participants were together in the experience.

It gives residents new things to talk about together …“Oh I remember planting that bush,” exclaimed one woman, while another handily recalled the tiny locust tree she planted many moons ago, and enjoyed having the chance to see it so big, as it appears now.

Vida Hamilton, 102, who lived on John Street in Milton most of her life, enjoyed the chance to show her friends what her house looked like, though she was very clear, noting it has since been sold and a brand new home built in its place.

For Nancy Gooderham, she got to see her house in Etobicoke.

“Oh my gosh,” she said. “They kept it very nice and they kept all my trees.”

Dorothy Wyndale pointed her house out to everyone watching.

“There it is, right there. I planted that old tree — a locust. I lived there 64 years and it feels like I’m right in front of it.”

Jim and Fanny Hunter, who will celebrate their 65th anniversary in September, said they lived in their Edgehill Drive home in Guelph 50 years ago. They had two daughters in that home, she recalled.

Harry Day was thrilled to see several of the homes he lived in Hamilton. Much to the delight of all, most of them were colourful, old century homes with rich character.

“That’s amazing,” he said, of the chance to do so, right from his armchair at Birkdale Place.

Anah Mustapha, emerging technologies librarian at MPL said it was a fun afternoon and she enjoyed seeing the reactions of the seniors.

For Birkdale’s director of recreation Alyssa Trimm, who knows every seniors’ name by heart in the entire building, it was equally fun.

She even got the chance to show them where she lives.

“There’s my room, right above the garage,” she said, while one woman jokingly asked whether they’d be able to see if her bed was made or not.

 

Julie Slack

Julie Slack is a reporter with the Milton Canadian Champion.