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Virtual Reality for Seniors: How New Technology is Helping The Elderly

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By Phil Cohen

Recent advancements in technology are helping young people forge new paths into the future and assisting older generations by giving them a gateway to the past. Among these new advancements is virtual reality, something normally associated with gaming.

Virtual reality is being introduced into nursing homes as a way to keep those living there alert and entertained. But the benefits of virtual reality extend farther than many believe.

How Virtual Reality Benefits Seniors

VR keeps the brain active

As people age, their brain activity tends to slow. In order to keep the brain active and responsive, it needs to be stimulated daily. Nursing homes entertain their residents by taking them on outings, bringing in certain entertainment and hosting events. They have game nights, movie screenings and bingo in hopes that their residents can keep sharp and have a good quality of life for as long as possible.

Nursing homes have begun introducing virtual reality into that regimen, having seniors play brain-stimulating games that require them to move around. They’re also introducing unique experiences in VR for seniors. These experiences are 360-degree movies that the VR headset wearer can interact with. 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.

More than two million seniors suffer from some sort of depression. According to Mental Health America, seniors with depression have roughly 50 percent higher healthcare costs than non-depressed seniors. Depression can also be a symptom of having Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, cancer and/or arthritis.

Having virtual reality in nursing homes and using it for simple games or for viewing simulations have reported that they feel less bored and depressed when interacting with the device. Virtual reality helps seniors not only by boosting their mood, but also promoting brain activity—both which reduce overall healthcare costs exponentially over time.

VR promotes movement

Because virtual reality is interactive, it naturally promotes movement. Seniors can put on a VR headset and take a stroll through a flower-filled path in England, take a tour of a museum or walk alongside the ocean – all from a treadmill.

VR headsets can be used with sensors that are placed on the hands or other parts of the body. Seniors can play games that keep them active, regardless if they are wheelchair bound or have impairments. Virtual reality benefits seniors by making games that garner more enthusiasm than required physical therapy, so the exercises are ultimately more effective.

VR promotes socializing

Although residents of a nursing or retirement home are often live in close quarters, they can still find it difficult to make friends. 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.

Socialization is vital in older adults, creating a sense of purpose, feelings of belonging, increased self-esteem and improved physical and mental health. A story in USA Today even mentioned that feeling lonely directly increases chances of an earlier death.

Using virtual reality in nursing homes not only helps promote unity but also decrease loneliness in seniors, improving their quality of life overall.

Interested in investing in VR?

If your medical facility wants to better the lives of seniors living in nursing or retirement homes by investing in virtual reality, consider working with PRN Funding. PRN Funding specializes in funding projects for medical companies, so if you want to partake in a new technology but don’t want to disrupt your cash flow, contact us. We can get your medical business the funding it needs to cover the cost of VR or any other innovation you may want to invest in.

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Phil Cohen

About the author

Philip Cohen is the founder and President of PRN Funding, LLC. PRN Funding is an extraordinarily focused niche player in healthcare funding. With years of…... Read More

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