Virtual Vacations: Travel from the Comfort of Your Couch

Virtual Vacations: Travel from the Comfort of Your Couch

How amazing would it be to visit Paris or Rome without having to pack a bag or buy a flight? Could you imagine snagging front row seats to Hamilton on Broadway free of charge? These things might not be that far away thanks to virtual reality technology.

Virtual reality, or VR, is coming quickly thanks to incredible leaps and bounds in science and design. VR will soon be opening up new worlds of entertainment and leisure to many people. While everyone is excited about the entertainment aspects of VR, many doctors and specialists are even more excited about the therapeutic possibilities.

Doctors at the Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in New York City are using VR to help their senior patients with a wide variety of issues. They have a special VR class every Tuesday morning, and are thrilled week by week to see seniors transform with youthful excitement and vigor when exposed to the VR.

The doctors in NYC aren’t the only ones. One Silicon Valley VR company, MyndVR, noticed this potential use for VR and set out to create a senior-friendly interface and content streaming platform. MyndVR even conducted tests with the University of Texas at Dallas to confirm that VR could be helpful for the senior population. They worked with more tan 300 people ages 60 to 100 in four different states, and had overwhelmingly positive feedback.

VR as therapy for seniors might seem a bit surprising, but this unconventional treatment seems to have many different benefits including:

  • Calming – VR videos have an amazing calming effect on seniors, which help with a range of health conditions from high blood pressure and stroke to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • Connections – Many seniors feel isolated or left out of the rest of the world because of physical or cognitive issues. VR can help them connect with the outside world by making them feel like they’re participating, even if their conditions prevent it in reality.
  • Quality of Life – 90% of participants in almost every senior VR study reported feeling more relaxed and of higher well-being after a VR session. For example, one wheelchair bound man who used to love hiking it the mountains shed tears of joy when placed in a VR mountain range.

A VR trip to Paris, Frank Sinatra concert or play date with a pet might seem trivial, but to many seniors, it could be the best experience of their whole week.

Are you intrigued by VR? Check out these companies and the amazing VR work they’re doing with seniors:

  • WellnessVR – This company is planning to launch a VR Club to help connect seniors to VR in group settings.
  • MyndVR – MyndVR is going to start an aging in place program for senior adults to help them purchase a VR set and video subscription.
  • Visual – Based in Minnesota, Visual is working in conjunction with a senior community in their area to administer VR sessions twice a week for 5 weeks.

What do you think about VR and senior well being? Tell us in the comment section. Keep checking back for more articles on this and similar topics.

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