For seniors, the benefits of virtual reality go beyond just entertainment. A research from from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Age Lab found older adults who used a VR system were more likely to feel positive about their health and emotions, less likely to be depressed, and less likely to feel socially isolated compared with those viewing similar content on TV. VR applications, if properly deployed & maintained can help participants see faraway places, surround themselves with animals or nature – and, in some cases, even “stand” in familiar 360-degree settings such as a childhood street or schoolyard.
As people age, their brain activity tends to slow. In order to keep the brain active and responsive, it needs to be stimulated daily which can be achieved by introducing unique experiences using VR. 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.
VR can be a great tool to promote socializing amongst elderly. 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.
Caregivers can also reap the benefits of using VR. It is an incredibly useful staff training tool, particularly if you’re working with people who are living with dementia, because there are VR programs designed to help understand what it feels like to live with dementia. It is also beneficial to track and analyze the therapeutic outcomes for the elderly.