Seniors have gained a false reputation for being anti-technology, but virtual reality is one system they can easily conquer. There's a different approach with VR for seniors than the one marketed towards kids and teens.
Instead of gamifying everything, seniors can use VR at home to engage socially, move their bodies, and therapize their minds. Virtual reality doesn't have to only be for the young, and we're here to tell you why.
Benefits of Using Virtual Reality for Seniors
Kids today with their VR headsets are mostly content to run around various digital worlds and attack video gaming from a new integrative perspective. Build your dream home, fight off zombies, or live your Jedi fantasies and wield a lightsaber. The possibilities with VR technology are seemingly endless.
Yet, the main way they're marketed to the public is as the next evolution in gaming systems. But this marketing scheme ignores all of the less bombastic ways that people can use VR to bolster their health and happiness.
Combat the effects of aging from all sides using VR. Seniors might not know just how they can benefit from using virtual reality, but there are multiple studies out there to prove just why it should be at the top of their birthday lists.
VR Can Help Combat Memory Diseases
In a 2021 academic study, researchers scoured 18 different papers to see where the literature currently stands on VR's usefulness with patients suffering from memory diseases. While there's yet to be any concrete claims that VR actually combats memory diseases or makes the symptoms better, there are correlations between patients with dementia and other memory diseases benefiting from the simulated sensory experiences in a virtual world.
As the technology continues to change and our understanding of memory conditions evolves, these virtual systems will only be more helpful for families and individuals experiencing memory loss.
VR Can Open Your Social World From Home
Once you're past retirement age, making social connection regularly can be challenging. It's why you sometimes see stories on the news of seniors having an emergency and no one knowing for weeks that they needed help. This isolation's only compounded when people start losing their fine motor skills or the ability to drive.
Virtual reality can help make seniors feel connected to their world without ever having to leave their homes. Several companies have created VR programs that let seniors visit far-off places as well as be a participant in events happening real-time. For many, isolation can be the real aging factor of getting older, and VR poses one way to help fight against it.
VR Can Help you Increase Physical Activity
Staying active even into your 80s is important. The only way to keep muscle tone, fine motor skills, and a balanced internal system is to stay active. Unfortunately, the equipment and classes people need in their 70s and 80s are usually not included in standard gyms, making them a less reasonable option. Yet, so many people struggle to find the right activities and techniques they can use at home to stay active.
This is where VR comes in. Virtual reality can be a game changer for people wanting to stay active but who don't have the space for equipment, the knowledge to execute proper techniques, or the interest in doing a standard workout. You can connect workout equipment to programs in your headset or just use activity-based games to get your heart rate up and your body moving.
VR Programs Seniors Will Love
Of course, half of the problem of having a virtual reality system is knowing the hidden gems you can download and play. Whether you're helping your grandparents download new games to their system or you're tech savvy enough to show the youngin's up and take it on yourself, we've got some of the best VR games and apps available for seniors right now.
Rendever's Library of Options
Rendever is a virtual reality system specifically built with seniors in mind. Their "platform was built with residents in mind, with a user experience designed for seniors and their caregivers," according to their website.
Just some of the features on this VR program for seniors to try at home include:
- A platform where family can upload pictures and videos their senior family members can view
- Interactive games like the "balloon popper"
- A search feature where seniors can virtually visit old and new locations
Apollo 11 VR
Get inside of the legendary spacecraft, Apollo 11, and take a journey to the moon. Featuring archival audio, this replication of the real Apollo 11 flight is just a few clicks away. Keep in mind that it's only made to be used with Quest headsets.
Nature Treks VR
Tap into the sublime by visiting idyllic locations around the world using Nature Treks VR. This experience isn't a game, but rather a way to stimulate your senses and interact with a natural world that can't hurt you. If you want something low-key and relaxing that lets you travel the world and explore nature, this is the game for you.
If you like music, want to bop to the beat and sweat a little, Beat Saber is a great VR game. It's a super popular program that most people can pick up and play right away. Use both arms to slash boxes and make a beat. Stay on the lower levels if you can't pick up the pace or progress to the lightning-fast ones if you're an immediate master. Either way, it's a great option to use virtual reality as exercise for seniors.
Endorsed by the PGA, Golf+ is the "ultimate golf experience" for VR. Perfect your swing and play on some of the best courses the real world has to offer. It's also a great way to socialize since you can play multiplayer with friends and family or complete strangers. Not only does this VR program for seniors help people stay connected with others, you get some exercise in a fun way too.
Experiment painting in a whole new medium using Vermillion. This VR game lets you mix colors and paint anything you can imagine on a virtual canvas. It takes the messiness of real-life painting away while not throwing you into the digital art deep end. For seniors who are artists, Vermillion is a great creative way to spend their time.
Challenge Aging and Have Fun Using VR
With technology constantly changing, we totally understand being resistant to learn a new program, but VR can really improve seniors' lives. Whether it's from a mental health standpoint or a physical one, the thousands of games and apps available bring the excitement and challenges of the world into the elderly's homes. Give the seniors in your life, or treat yourself with, the gift of VR.