Three Ways Seniors Are Improving their “Golden Years” With Virtual Reality
by Stan Glukhoedov, CEO and co-founder, Prosense.tv
Virtual reality (VR) technology’s ability to allow users to experience everything from the mundane to the extraordinary from any location creates a potential for consumer appeal that is far-reaching and age-inclusive, especially for people over the age of sixty-five. As seniors age and become more dependent on regular care assistance and are less capable of traveling freely, the world around them can become stifling and lackluster. A new solution for issues of solitude and isolation that the elderly experience all too often exists in the form of VR technology.
Escaping the Daily Grind
Seniors often become tired with the same routine day-in and day-out, but with VR’s ability to transport users to almost any location, the freedom from a daily schedule is more attainable than ever before. Ironically, while many people over the age of 65 are bored with their current daily routines, many seniors often miss most the ability to take part in everyday events they no longer can experience including visiting museums and watching concerts. VR makes these experiences possible for everyone, regardless of age or physical limitations.
However, many skeptics argue that the VR industry severely lacks the very thing that drives its appeal: interesting experiences. One company that is working to solve this issue and improve upon the diversity of content available to the masses is Prosense.tv, a global leader in sports, cultural and business event broadcasting in VR. With Prosense.tv, Seniors can enjoy major sporting and theatrical events such as The International Ballet Festival as well as a large selection of live and archived VR content. This diversification in VR content allows seniors to participate in the activities they love without worrying about limited mobility.
Combating Symptoms of Depression and Feelings of Loneliness
One major issue facing members of the 65 and older community is an overwhelming sense of loneliness and depression. As individuals age and develop physical and mental conditions, many begin to lose the freedom to travel, socialize and participate in previously-enjoyed activities. However, through guided sessions that allow users to undergo therapeutic experiences that decrease their sense of self-criticism, virtual reality has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of depression. In a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 15 adult participants underwent weekly sessions of virtual reality therapy. One month after the conclusion of the study, nine of the participants reported reduced depression symptoms and four reported a significant decrease in their symptoms.
According to AARP, half of Americans over the age of 60 suffer from feelings of loneliness, a problem that companies like Rendever are trying to solve. By offering endless opportunities to check off bucket list items and even connecting to Google Street View, Rendever enables seniors to experience everything from skydiving to walking down memory lane in their hometown. VR also works to lower users’ sense of loneliness by allowing them to participate in group and family events, such as weddings and birthdays, that may otherwise be impossible to experience.
Relieving Chronic Pain
In addition to promoting emotional wellbeing, virtual reality technology has also proven to have physically therapeutic effects on users who deal with pain. This is due to distraction strategies made possible by VR’s immersive nature. For seniors who deal with chronic pain, specially designed VR experiences pinpoint and stimulate specific areas of the brain to increase the release of endorphins, which interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain.
According to a study by PLOS ONE, an international science publication, that examined the effects of VR on pain sufferers, pain levels reportedly reduced by 60 percent while subjects participated in a five-minute virtual reality experience called “Cool!” that consists of landscapes and various images of nature along with ambient music. Immediately after the headset was removed, pain levels reduced by 33 percent in the short-term. For reference, morphine typically alleviates pain by 30 percent.
Patients from the study have since reported that the decrease in pain they experienced as a result of the experiment was the first relief they felt in years. While there have been limited studies showing the long-term effects of VR on chronic pain, the short-term results indicate that VR may soon be a promising alternative to highly addictive opioid drugs.
For those who are restricted from traveling independently for physical or mental reasons, VR is a helpful tool for living out experiences that would otherwise be impossible. However, it is important to note that if you or the senior in your life are interested in utilizing VR for extracurricular and therapeutic reasons, be sure to speak with a health professional or care attendant to find the best system for your needs.
Stan Glukhoedov, CEO and Co-Founder, Prosense.tv
Stan is a VR evangelist as well as the CEO and co-founder of Prosense.tv, a global leader in broadcasting live VR events. On Nov. 3, Prosense will launch its ICO to support the development of ProsenseLive, the world’s first affordable and secure peer-to-peer livestreaming platform for VR content, built on the blockchain.