Virtual Reality is a new technology that is helping the elderly
Recent advancements in technology are helping young people forge new paths into the future and assisting older generations by giving them a gateway to the past. Among these new advancements is virtual reality, something normally associated with gaming.
Virtual reality is being introduced into nursing homes and senior care centers as a way to keep those living there alert and entertained. But the benefits of virtual reality extend farther than many believe.
How Virtual Reality Benefits Seniors
VR keeps the brain active
As people age, their brain activity tends to slow. In order to keep the brain active and responsive, it needs to be stimulated daily. Nursing homes entertain their residents by taking them on outings, bringing in certain entertainment and hosting events. They have game nights, movie screenings and bingo in hopes that their residents can keep sharp and have a good quality of life for as long as possible.
Nursing homes have begun introducing virtual reality into that regimen, having seniors play brain-stimulating games that require them to move around. They’re also introducing unique experiences in VR for seniors. These experiences are 360-degree movies that the VR headset wearer can interact with. The experiences range from walking through a jungle path to sitting in on a jazz concert at a speakeasy. It allows them to not only exercise their brain, but “travel” across the world and relive memories within the walls of a retirement or nursing home.
Virtual reality helps seniors not only by boosting their mood, but also promoting brain activity—both which reduce overall healthcare costs exponentially over time.
VR promotes socializing
Although residents of a nursing or retirement home are often live in close quarters, they can still find it difficult to make friends. One way to promote socialization by incorporating group virtual reality in nursing homes. Several people can put on different VR headsets and travel across the world or participate in events together. It makes it easier to socialize because participants don’t have to directly see the person they’re interacting with, but at the same time still bond over a shared experience – similar to talking to someone online without seeing their face.
Socialization is vital in older adults, creating a sense of purpose, feelings of belonging, increased self-esteem and improved physical and mental health. A story in USA Today even mentioned that feeling lonely directly increases chances of an earlier death.
Using virtual reality in nursing homes not only helps promote unity but also decrease loneliness in seniors, improving their quality of life overall.
VR promotes positive emotions and relaxation
Recent studies found that virtual reality exposure helped participants maintain a high level of positive emotion and relaxation. In post-exposure assessment, participants reported that their experience was overwhelmingly good, with 100 percent saying they enjoyed the experience. The majority reported that virtual reality had a positive impact on their mental health, with 96 percent saying it helped them feel happier, 97 percent felt more relaxed, 98 percent more positive and 94 percent less worried.