A group of seniors from a residential home in the US got the chance of a lifetime to explore the International Space Station last week. They were taking part in a Stanford University study researching the potential for virtual reality (VR) to improve the emotional well-being of elderly people. The study is also hoping to ascertain whether VR experiences can strengthen residents’ relationships with staff as well as help them become more receptive to new technologies. Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction lab is working with the John Knox Village community, giving them access to the headsets that will allow them to take virtual tours of Paris, Egypt and other landmarks – as well as sky dive, hike or attend a car rally. So far, the response has been enthusiastic with seniors embracing the new horizons virtual reality has afforded them. “It brings us together. It also stimulates the adrenaline, stimulates the heart, it stimulates your whole body,” explained Anne Selby, a nursing home resident at John Knox Village in Florida.
“I mean you’re immersed in an experience if you let yourself do that. And I’ve got a very vivid imagination so it’s pretty easy for me to do that. And like I said, it connects people”.
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