For at least two decades, we’ve heard exciting promises about virtual reality. Until recently, VR technology was the exclusive domain of tech-savvy kids and a few startups making big predictions while offering little. In the past few years, virtual reality has come a long way from its humble roots. It’s not just about video games and immersive experiences anymore. A number of companies are already using virtual reality platforms to improve the lives of seniors.
You’re never too old to learn something new. Indeed, technology is a great way to help seniors master new skills. So don’t buy into the idea that only young people can master high-tech products. Virtual reality is for everyone. As this technology becomes decidedly mainstream, here are some ways that virtual reality can change lives.
Seniors who have woven a rich tapestry of memories may retreat into those memories when failing health makes the present moment difficult. And because dementia attacks short-term memory first, seniors who cannot recall what they did yesterday may still have detailed memories of their wedding. Virtual reality can help seniors retire into the blissful memories of the past. A senior may be able to visit their childhood home, attend the concert where they met their spouse, or even re-enact their wedding.
Traveling to New Places
When a senior has a long bucket list, checking off every destination and dream can be difficult — that is, until virtual reality enters the picture. Virtual reality allows seniors to realistically simulate travel to just about anywhere. Your primate-loving mom can finally see chimpanzees in the wild, while the father who spent his life tending exotic orchids can see them in their home country.
Virtual reality allows you to create a detailed alternate universe that draws on real information, neatly mimicking everything your loved one would see during real travel — but without the stress of packing and preparing for it.
Trying New Skills
For the senior who always wanted to fly a plane or go sky-diving, virtual reality offers a low-risk, low-stakes option to enjoy these pursuits. But VR isn’t just for seniors who want to try new things. Seniors can also pursue new skills and talents — master gardening, riding a bike, or climbing trees. And for those who have already accumulated significant skills, VR affords a chance to revisit these skills and enjoy a once-beloved hobby.
The right senior living activities are fun, but they’re also much more. Keeping your loved one’s brain active may improve overall health, reduce isolation, and imbue life with a new sense of purpose.
Loneliness is a serious health hazard. It can cause people with dementia to more rapidly decline, and steadily erode overall health. Although the right activities and a supportive community can make a dent in loneliness, a senior can feel isolated even when surrounded by people — particularly if they have dementia or another serious medical condition. Virtual reality allows seniors to pursue the social interactions that feel fulfilling to them, whether it’s chatting up a stranger in a cafe or reliving their first day of college.
Escaping the Daily Routine
Many seniors find that the world gets smaller as they age, especially if they no longer drive or live far away from loved ones. Virtual reality offers seniors a break from the monotony of their daily routines. Even when a senior’s living conditions are less than ideal, or their health prevents them from pursuing the life they want, virtual reality can restore a sense of joy and balance.
Many senior living communities now incorporate virtual reality into their programs, further expanding the many activities a senior can expect from a quality community. For help navigating the world of senior living and finding the perfect place to call home, check out our free guide, Senior Living Demystified.