The Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi (DCD) has launched 2 digital-focused initiatives, in partnership with the Family Development Foundation (FDF), aiming to enhance the digital reality for senior citizens and residents, providing them a better quality of life, and working towards improving their mental health. First one is on digital cognitive rehabilitation and the second one is about Virtual Reality (VR). The department is also working on the “Forever Fit” initiative, in cooperation with New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi, to promote physical activity.
Thee three initiatives come as part of DCD’s integrated efforts to provide the elderly with needed care and decent life as part of the family quality of life strategy.
On the digital cognitive rehabilitation initiative, Her Excellency Dr. Bushra Al Mulla, Executive Director of the Community Development Sector at DCD, explained that this initiative comes within the department’s efforts and the family quality of life strategy, to grant senior citizens and residents full rights like any other society groups. The use of social media is one of the daily practices conducted by all members of society, and our role is to enable older persons to use digital platforms to help them communicate effectively with their families and community members. We seek to activate the elderly roles in the society and contribute to strengthening their bonds with other community members.
Dr. Al Mulla pointed out that the first phase will continue until December, to target nearly 300 senior citizens and residents in Abu Dhabi, while the second phase aims to reach more than 700 beneficiaries during 2022.
As for the VR initiative, Her Excellency Dr. Layla Alhyas, Executive Director of the Social Monitoring & Innovation Sector at DCD, said, "This initiative is an extension of our efforts to improve the services and design innovative solutions that meets the needs of the elderly.”
Dr. Alhayas added: “We seek to exploit modern technologies to meet the needs of different community groups. Today, we look forward to experimenting with VR technologies to provide an enjoyable and unique experience for the elderly. Researchers explained that the benefits of VR go beyond entertainment and contribute to improving physical and mental health and reducing loneliness.”
VR has applications in various sectors, including but not limited to healthcare, rehabilitation, therapy, and education. Evaluation of the effectiveness of VR among older populations elsewhere in the world revealed the positive impact of the technology in improving the social and emotional wellbeing of older adults.
In cooperation with the Center for Behavioral Institutional Design at NYU Abu Dhabi, DCD is implementing the “Forever Fit” initiative, which aims to enhance physical activity among senior citizens and residents, using behavioral stimulation to encourage them to include physical activity in their daily routine. This helps older persons reduce stress, lower risks of chronic diseases and their complications, and improve their mental health.