At Retirement Homes, Virtual Reality Is a Big Hit

Study finds it improves the well-being of seniors
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2024 5:20 PM CST
Updated Feb 24, 2024 5:45 PM CST

"Oh my God, that's beautiful," said Retired Army Col. Farrell Patrick as he used a virtual reality program to experience what it would be like to be in a Navy fighter jet flying off the Florida coast. Patrick is 91 and lives at the John Knox Village retirement community near Fort Lauderdale. The Village was one of 17 senior communities around the country that participated in a Stanford University study that found the vast majority of 245 participants between 65 and 103 years old enjoyed virtual reality, per the AP. Researchers found that it improved both their emotions and their interactions with staff.

  • Stanford's peer-reviewed study, done in conjunction with the company Mynd Immersive, found that almost 80% of seniors reported having a more positive attitude after their VR session and almost 60% said they felt less isolated socially. The enjoyment lessened somewhat for older respondents whose sight and hearing had deteriorated. Those who found VR less enjoyable were also more likely to dislike technology in general.
  • Almost 75% of caregivers said residents' moods improved after using VR. More than 80% of residents and almost 95% caregivers said talking about their VR experience enhanced their relationships with each other.
  • The study is part of a larger effort to adapt VR so it can be beneficial to seniors' health and emotional well-being and help lessen the impact dementia has on some of them. "For the majority of our respondents, it was their first time using virtual reality," said Ryan Moore, a Stanford doctoral candidate who helped lead the research. "They enjoyed it ... and they looked forward to doing it again."
  • Seniors picked from seven-minute virtual experiences such as parachuting, riding in a tank, watching stage performances, playing with puppies, or visiting places like Paris or Egypt. Participants wore headsets that gave them 360-degree views and sounds.
  • Read the full story.
(More virtual reality stories.)

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