You may feel as though your world has grown smaller as you’ve aged. Because of limited mobility, driving challenges, or other physical and mental limitations, you’re not traveling much anymore. Even going to a movie or visiting friends can sometimes feel like an ordeal.
VR Broadens Horizons
But thanks to virtual reality (VR) headsets, an interactive, three-dimensional, immersive technology, you can now venture beyond your four walls and enjoy a vast world of experiences without ever leaving your couch. Simply slip on the headset and the Eiffel Tower will appear in 3D before your eyes. In seconds, you can travel to Venice and explore the canals aboard a gondola, and then return to the U.S. – without any jet lag – to experience parasailing on a Florida beach. Before you return to “real” reality, sit in the front row of a Broadway show or watch an adorable pile of puppies play (we dare you not to try and pet them!).
This technology, which was originally developed for the video game industry and used almost exclusively by millennials, is now being targeted to seniors because of its ability to combat feelings of confinement and isolation. Showing up in retirement communities across the country, the goggles and senior-targeted content – from wildlife to skydiving to trips overseas – are entertaining countless seniors with their virtual, yet no less exhilarating, experiences.
But VR is much more than simply a recreational activity. It can also stimulate the brain and have a positive impact on those with memory issues by recreating past experiences (hiking for a longtime outdoorsman, etc.) or revisiting familiar places (going back to a chef’s first restaurant). This technology has also been found to distract seniors from chronic pain and sometimes even have a calming effect on those with dementia. More research, however, is needed to prove VR’s actual impact on cognition.
You may feel that you’re too old to be amazed anymore. But strap on a VR headset and you may find yourself in absolute awe of the world around you again!