Virtual Reality at Your Fingertips: A Simple Guide to Inviting VR Into Your Life

vr in your senior community

In our previous posts on virtual reality (here and here), we explored the benefits of integrating VR into your life. Reduce anxiety, activate your memory, and check items off your bucket list right from home—the possibilities are endless!

Senior living communities across the U.S. (and the globe) are enhancing their residents’ well-being with VR. A senior living facility that launched its VR pilot program in 2017 has now integrated VR into all 15 of their facilities. And luxury facilities aren’t the only ones participating in this trend. Smaller communities are following suit. Why? Because the cost of VR programs keeps shrinking, while the evidence for VR’s health benefits rises. 

That means if you’ve been excited to learn about VR, the revitalizing, immersive experience doesn’t have to stay stuck in the idea phase for you! You can bring VR to your community in just a few steps. Let’s get started!

Step #1 Talk to other residents

VR programs meet a variety of needs. Patients coping with anxiety or pain have participated in therapies incorporating VR into their therapy sessions. That’s right. Simulations—like a helicopter tour of the Nile’s majestic winding path—can significantly reduce your body’s pain signals

VR also strengthens connections between friends and encourages having some plain old fun! Others seek an adventure from their VR experience and engage with VR in a group setting.

When you have a deeper understanding of what you and your neighbors are drawn to, and what some of the therapeutic needs may be, you’ll have a better idea of the shape a VR program in your community might take. 

Step #2 Explore your options

You’ll find several options for VR service providers. Many offer the standard fully immersive VR experiences, while others specialize in collaborative and semi-immersive experiences. Different equipment is available—wire-free and chargeable headsets, headsets with physical cables, tablet controllers and motion controllers depending on the needs of each individual. You want a VR experience that caters to your needs, so a service provider that’s a great fit for you and your community is key.

The right service provider will equip your community with everything you need to experience VR safely. That means headsets, a tablet that controls the VR experience, and training for your center’s staff. 

Step #3 Connect with your activity director 

Your activity director knows your community’s weekly rhythm. So they will also have insight into how to best incorporate a VR program and who to speak to about the next steps. 

Your senior living community will then start to consider purchasing and implementing a VR system. A variety of factors will affect the feasibility and timeline. For instance, a strong wireless network is necessary for the success of any VR program. 

Weighing the cost of a VR system, along with the potential benefits of residents, is another important factor in your community’s decision to invest in VR. Create a list with your fellow residents of benefits and shared interest in the VR experience to show that there will be widespread participation.

Step #4 Get going! 

VR is accessible to most people because the experience no longer has to be expensive. Quality headsets are now available for under $100. Pioneering senior communities have also paved the way in terms of implementing VR programs. Having the opportunity to learn from those communities means the implementation process is easier than ever before.

What’s more, VR’s ever-increasing versatility means your journey is personal. Whether you want to foster your cognitive wellness or engage with VR recreationally, there’s a program out there for you. 

So, what are you waiting for? Get started and experience VR’s life-enhancing effects for yourself.


image credit: shuttterstock/Halfpoint