Posted on 06/30/2020 at 12:00 PM by Chuck Fox
Travel the World Without Leaving Home
Consider all of the places you will have lived or visited in your lifetime, along with places that you still want to visit. Now imagine you are at the chapter of your life when you are residing at a senior care facility—yet those places around the world that you dream of visiting are not out of reach.
How is this possible? Simply put through the immersive, real-world authenticity made possible by virtual reality (VR) technology. It is exciting to see how VR can be applied to more and more aspects of our lives. In this case, VR is helping seniors revisit their childhood hometowns, explore their favorite museums, and visit sites all over the globe. They can virtually visit places they have always wanted to see. The possibilities seem endless.
There are a number of VR businesses focusing on the needs of seniors, including figuring out the best ways to positively impact their health and wellbeing. A true sign of our digital times, nonprofit AARP even has its own VR product to benefit seniors and their families. Originally making its debut at the world-renowned technology tradeshow CES, the app is called Alcove and it enables families to connect no matter their travel budget, time, or mobility constraints. AARP says the app allows people to spend time together in a virtual immersive environment. They can share the experience of virtually traveling to Europe, swimming with dolphins, practicing meditation together, as well as sharing photos or watching a favorite TV show with family members who live far away – all in an immersive and engaging environment.
Though these immersive experiences can clearly be categorized as entertainment, they can also provide health benefits for patients suffering from debilitating health issues such as dementia, social isolation, and depression.
Another important part of the equation, VR is even being used to train students, medical professionals and caregivers to better understand what senior patients go through when they have serious health conditions such as dementia. These immersive training environments were designed to stimulate empathy and understanding of the patient experience.
We used to think of technology as a young person’s world. It turns out that technology innovations—such as the immersive VR experiences described above—can benefit all of us, no matter our age. Better yet, they can provide a way for family members of all ages to connect and bond as they share meaningful journeys. Imagine the stories that grandparents can share with family members while they all fly over the original family farm, a favorite neighborhood diner, or the landmark where they got engaged.