Although the pandemic has made life harder for people all over the world, the elderly have been the most severely impacted. Old age and chronic health conditions make it riskier for them to leave the house, and senior living facilities have limited visitors due to self-isolation orders, leaving nursing homes and assisted living facilities even more lonely. Even the most reclusive of us want a break from time to time.
Having said that, technological innovation has never disappointed mankind and continues to advance at an exponential rate, providing solutions to all problems. This is where virtual reality (VR) enters the picture. Isolation affects the elderly even more than it does anyone, and virtual reality seeks to solve this issue once and for all.
Virtual reality has been a thriving industry with a lot of untapped potential for the past few years. Although it began as a platform mainly for video games, its advantages have far outweighed its original intent. Virtual reality has now become a way for seniors to socialise and participate in things that they may not have been able to do before due to the ageing process, such as virtual travel.
Although cutting-edge technology is commonly associated with the young, the elderly are also adopting VR. Virtual tourism allows people to fly without having to pack a suitcase or leave the comfort of their own homes; it also allows them to interact with loved ones even though they are not physically present. This is particularly beneficial for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; it reduces depression and improves mental health.
Loneliness has been shown in studies to be as harmful to one’s wellbeing as smoking 15 cigarettes in a day, and this is where live virtual tours can help. Because of its immersive interaction capabilities, virtual travel has been suggested to have the potential to induce behavioural change by making users feel more active, absorbed, engaged, and engrossed.
Another fantastic advantage of virtual travel is the opportunity to visit a new home. Moving can be a stressful experience, particularly as we get older. In certain cases, seniors are downsizing because they are moving into a new home.
This can be a big hassle since it is difficult to part with some of the possessions accumulated over time. It’s almost as if you’re saying goodbye to your memories. In this respect, travelling virtually will make it easier for seniors to make choices on where they want to live.
Several mobile applications have recently emerged to help make virtual tourism more available for such purposes. Proxgy is one such app that provides virtual travel as a service, which has grown in popularity worldwide. Via their virtual avatars, or Proxgies, the elderly can fly to the most remote areas of the world and explore at their own pace.
This form of immersive and personalised experience can help stimulate the brain, increase positivity and relaxation, alleviate physical discomfort, and minimise the risk of anxiety and depression that is associated with isolation and loneliness. Virtual travel also aids memory enhancement.
With the advancements of virtual reality technology, more senior communities are investigating the benefits of immersive virtual travel for their residents. Both of these advantages help seniors remain cognitively stimulated and linked to the environment, which can increase everyone’s quality of life.