Virtual reality (VR) can sound like science fiction, but in reality, virtual reality for older people can be an excellent tool to engage in stimulating and enjoyable experiences.
As technology continues to advance, VR is becoming more accessible. In collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology in 2021, we developed a toolkit for implementing DIY VR in aged care, allowing older people to explore the virtual world and reap its rewards.
Virtual reality for older people and apps designed specifically for older people have gained recognition for their ability to enhance cognitive skills, provide social interactions, and offer immersive entertainment. In this article, we present a selection of the best VR apps that are suitable for older individuals, based on our experience in delivering VR experiences to this age group.
From brain exercises and virtual visits with loved ones to exploring breathtaking landscapes and engaging in interactive games, these VR apps cater to various interests and abilities. Whether you are new to VR or have some experience, there are apps suitable for everyone and a great introduction to the expanding world of VR (plus at least for now, the first three apps are free).
The best apps for virtual reality for older people are:
- Alcove, a comprehensive VR app developed by the American Association for Retirees and Pensions that leads the way in offering a variety of activities and virtual visits specifically designed for older people;
- First Steps and First Contact, beginner-friendly Meta Quest apps that provide tutorials on using VR equipment;
- Ocean Rift and Nature Treks VR, which allow users to immerse themselves in the wonders of the underwater world and explore captivating natural landscapes;
- Fruit Ninja, an exciting game that provides a fun workout;
- MultiBrush, a creative outlet for 3D artwork in VR; and
- YouTube VR, which opens up a vast library of 360-degree videos for exploration.
These apps are just the beginning of the possibilities that VR offers. From experiencing live performances by Cirque du Soleil to visiting iconic locations like the International Space Station, or the Anne Frank house, VR provides a gateway to limitless adventures and discoveries.
These apps can be enjoyed on various VR platforms, such as the Oculus Quest 2, PlayStation VR, and Steam. Whether you are seeking mental stimulation, social engagement, relaxation, or simply a new form of entertainment, VR apps for older people offer an immersive and accessible experience that can enhance overall well-being and quality of life.
Some useful links:
Transforming aged care with virtual reality project outline – https://research.qut.edu.au/agedcarevr/
Transformational toolkit which provides information on what’s needed to implement VR in aged care facilities – https://research.qut.edu.au/agedcarevr/transforming-aged-care-with-virtual-reality/
The Ageing Revolution’s website with information about the work they do in the ageing space – https://www.theageingrevolution.com/
Full disclosure, the Ageing Revolution team is also part of the Good Death Impact Network alongside Carers’ Circle.
Photo credit Cheerful senior man wearing virtual reality goggles in RawPixel