“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore
When you think of early technology adopters, most likely millennials and the younger generation comes to mind. However with Virtual Reality (VR), seniors appear to be among those taking advantage of this cutting-edge technology to better their lives.
VR is now being used around the globe to help seniors feel less lonely and provide them with emotional, cognitive and social benefits.
A recent Forbes article featured examples of the ways this immersive technology is positively impacting the lives of seniors. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites below.
VR Can Counteract Feelings of Loneliness
Tokyo researcher, Kenta Toshima, is using VR to help nursing home residents visit places from their pasts and tick off spots around the globe from their bucket lists. He is accomplishing this by capturing made-to-order VR experiences with an 8K 360 camera.
“By supplementing their physical handicap with technology, the VR travel experiences can help improve the elderly’s motivation for rehabilitation and improve their quality of life. The VR experience makes them feel like they are out of the nursing home and can help ease their anxiety and loneliness.” Kenta Toshima
Be sure to check out the videos of the elderly patients experiencing new places in virtual reality on Toshima’s social media.
VR Can Be Used for Travel and Time Travel
Two retirement communities in Tucson are the launch pads for a program designed to see how virtual reality technology can help senior citizens with cognition, dementia, loneliness and other issues.
Facebook’s standalone VR device, Oculus Quest, has enabled the residents to ride on a roller coaster, visit the Egyptian Pyramids and even go back to places from their past for a little trip down memory lane.
VR Can Help Tackle Social Isolation
Studies have found that isolation and loneliness are more detrimental to one’s health than obesity or smoking, especially for those over 50.
The aim of Alcove is to bridge the physical distance between family members and empower people to experience new places and things that they typically would not be able to either due to the cost, time required or mobility constraints.
The immersive ecosystem that AARP has built lets users enter and navigate on their own, or explore in multiplayer with their family and friends.
It was developed in collaboration with Rendever, a startup with a virtual reality platform that provides cognitive stimulation and socialization to seniors.