Computer program helps seniors isolated inside retirement homes

Posted at 7:39 AM, Jan 14, 2021

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- COVID-19 taught us that separation is not easy, especially for people who live in retirement homes.

The Canterbury Rehabilitation Center was one of many senior living facilities hard hit in the early part of the pandemic.

The center has been in quarantine mode since March 2020.

That means residents must stay in their rooms and visitors are not allowed inside.

"It's very rough trying to stay in that room all day," Shirley Loyd said.

Loyd, who lives at Canterbury, said she contracted COVID-19 twice.

She said she understood the importance of social distancing.

A new computer program called Restore Together was introduced at the facility eight months ago to help residents connect with others while remaining far apart.

Loyd and Jean Batten, another resident at Canterbury, called Restore Together the highlight of their week.

"We wait for it. We get excited. We get anxious to play. We enjoy it," said Loyd.

"Just gives you something to do, something to think about," said Batten.

Batten and Loyd can play the games by themselves or compete against one another virtually.

Bingo is a favorite at Canterbury.

Anne Wales, a rehab tech at the facility, said she saw the difference the program makes.

"It helps them with coordination. It helps them with memory--it's fun," she said. "I've noticed where their reflexes are a lot quicker now after they play it for a while and their arm movements, and their moods... they are so much happier."

Centers around the country are also logging onto the program.

Restore Skills is the company that created the program and company CEO Eran Arden said business has tripled since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Restore is the only player in the market that allows you to take your laptop and utilize it as a gaming environment for therapy for skill-building," he said.

The virtual games bring excitement, but Loyd and Batten said they can't wait for the pandemic to be over and for things to get back to normal.

"Oh, I'll be so glad," said Batten.

Canterbury hopes to expand the computer program so that residents can play with their loved ones who are outside the facility.

Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.