One of the great advances in modern times is the invention of virtual reality (VR) technology. The quality, cost and accessibility of this technology has improved tremendously since its creation several decades ago.
It’s more common than ever for people to have access to VR programming and to be able to enjoy a VR experience. The technology is used largely for the purpose of entertainment, but its entertainment value is often put to use for therapy. Many senior living communities have incorporated virtual reality for seniors into their entertainment and therapy programs.
But what exactly is virtual reality? And how can virtual reality for seniors be beneficial? This blog post will explain VR programming, what a VR experience is like, how it’s being used to entertain and rehabilitate older adults and improve their quality of life.
What Is Virtual Reality?
VR is a kind of technology that uses a screen system you wear over your eyes like goggles. This device does not simply play video and audio for the user to watch like a film. As users turn their heads, they’re able to see the view shift in any and all directions. The result is a totally immersive experience where the users can feel like they’re actually transported to the place being depicted in the VR programming.
VR is often used for entertainment. It can allow a user to virtually visit a distant city or cultural site without having to leave the comfort and safety of home. It can even take a user on a ride that involves motion, like in a vehicle or roller coaster. The user can look all around, with 360-degree views, and interact with the virtual environment using hand controls.
Using VR to Improve Mental Health in Seniors
A common concern for older adults is that they may become unable to comfortably leave their home when they want to because of a health issue or physical impairment. This can lead to feelings of social isolation. VR programming can provide safe, satisfying virtual travel experiences. Users can even visit places that don’t exist anymore. One VR company has created a 1950s-style nightclub featuring a concert given by a Frank Sinatra lookalike.
Some senior living communities are using VR regularly to create experiences for their residents to share with each other and with family members outside the community. Some multiplayer options are becoming available that enable users to explore a virtual world together, allowing interactions from a distance if loved ones live far away or if there’s a need to physically quarantine.
Virtual Reality for Seniors In Memory Care
Reminiscence therapy is often used with seniors who are experiencing cognitive decline, where photos of loved ones and past experiences are viewed. Because of technologies like Google Street View, with VR programming a user can have a virtual visit to a favorite place from their past and even visit their childhood home. Many reactions by users wearing VR headsets who see the places of their past can be deeply emotional.
The medical industry is beginning to develop VR experiences that allow them to test a user’s ability to think, make decisions and move. This can be useful in the diagnosis of medical issues such as early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. VR programming is also being designed to allow users to multitask and exercise their decision-making abilities. Seniors have been using games and puzzles to exercise their cognitive skills for many years, and VR technology is the logical next step. With VR, the user can navigate spaces and move objects, being greatly entertained while being cognitively stimulated.
Virtual Reality for Seniors’ Physical Health
Exercise has long been proven to benefit seniors and improve their quality of life. But sometimes older adults may be dealing with pain that makes it harder to stay committed to a workout regimen. A VR user may be more willing to exercise regularly if the experience is more entertaining than staring at a wall or a television screen. And immersive content gives users more to focus on, helping to take their mind off any discomfort they may have to work through.
Virtual Reality for Seniors at Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill has incorporated VR headsets into their programs. This cutting-edge technology is revolutionizing senior care, therapy and entertainment. It’s decreasing feelings of social isolation and is becoming a great tool to improve mental health in older adults. It’s the wave of the future, and seniors can enjoy every bit of it at Beacon Hill.
To find out more about virtual reality for seniors and other programs available at Beacon Hill, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.