If you’ve been reading the news about VR and AI and UX and all that jazz, you’ve likely thought, “Ah, that stuff doesn’t impact me, it only impacts the younger generation”... and to that we say, nope! You’re so wrong.
All of the above does and can impact you, no matter your age or generation. In fact, VR (Virtual Reality) in particular can have some incredible benefits for mental health, loneliness, and enjoyment as you enter your golden years.
The best part about VR, though? You can enjoy it from the comfort of your own home, never needing to leave your couch or living room to reap its rewards.
So let’s dive into why VR can be so impactful on your quality of life. (And if you manage to get all the way through this guide, you’ll find a list of our top VR game picks for seniors. You’re welcome).
Firstly, what even is VR?
Virtual reality (VR) technology makes it possible to visit places, see things, and engage in activities without physically travelling or challenging your body. Your imagination is your only limitation – all you need is a TV or computer, some super specific gaming goggles, and a willingness to let go and have some fun!
Isn’t VR typically used for gaming?
Well, yes, but it’s also been used to train medical specialists and surgeons, architects are using it to design buildings, and film directors are now using it to develop movies. So when it comes to using VR as a senior, the (virtual) world really is your oyster! You can use it to socialise with friends and family, as motivation to move your body, and as a means of caring for your mind and mental health.
What are some benefits of using VR regularly?
It can help combat loneliness
Socialising can become exhausting as we age, especially if you’re always required to leave the house to catch up at a friend’s or at a local cafe. VR can help you connect with your friends while you both remain in the comfort of your own homes.
It can also provide you with experiences you mightn’t otherwise have access to (like travel). Being able to explore new places can help improve motivation around rehabilitation (for those who are recovering from an injury, operation, or chronic pain) and quality of life (because you’re able to experience things you thought you’d never be able to!).
It can help you increase your physical activity
Don’t enjoy heading to gym classes anymore? Feel more comfortable exercising at your home gym or in your living room? VR can provide you with the opportunity to do just that, while ensuring you feel as though you’re at a gym (or in a group class), without physically being there. For those of you who struggle to stay motivated to exercise when you don’t have a gym class locked in? This is totally a way to combat that mindset.
It can help improve and/or maintain your memory
A 2021 academic study found that there are correlations between patients with dementia and other memory diseases benefiting from VR and the sensory experiences it provides. While the findings of this study aren’t conclusive, there’s definitely some pretty strong evidence in there.
Okay, you’ve sold me! So how do I get started with VR?
You’ll need to head into your local tech store – it might be a JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman or The Good Guys. Ask their team for a special VR headset – these are essential in allowing you to enter a fully-immersive virtual environment.
And before you ask us a follow-up question… nope, these headsets don’t need to be expensive. VR headsets have been around since the 90s, so there are now heaps of brands to choose from, ranging from expensive to not-so-expensive.
What are some VR apps you’d recommend for a senior who’s just getting started?
This is exactly what it sounds like. Zen Zone provides immersive meditation and relaxation experiences. You can opt to spend some time in a virtual Zen garden, or you can choose to rake sand (it’s super cathartic, just give it a go)! Life’s complexities are stripped back in the Zen Zone – and using the app can be a great way to combat restlessness and boredom.
If you have friends or family members with disabilities, Appility can be a tangible way to step into their shoes and experience what life is like for them. While this might sound strange, it can actually prove extremely beneficial for helping you better understand your loved ones so you can better cater to their needs and more deeply connect with them.
Ever wanted to be teleported to Europe, or Japan, or Antarctica? Well, now you can! Wander allows you to beat the travel bug by allowing you to travel across the world to places you might’ve only dreamed of visiting.
As we age, travel can start to feel a little less realistic – especially if our health is starting to wane – so utilising VR apps like Wander can be a great way to tick off those bucket list locations from the comfort of your own home.
If you were convinced (before you read this guide) that VR was just for the kids? We hope we’ve convinced you otherwise. Virtual reality can provide so many benefits for our health (mental and physical) as we age – so there’s no harm in giving it a try if you’re game to (pun intended).
Looking to get your affairs in order, write your Powers of Attorney alongside your legal Will. Get started at willed.com.au