Gotta Catch ‘Em All at Any Age: Seniors, Pokemon, & Virtual Reality
Pokémon Go is the latest video game to take the world by storm. Young and old alike are participating in this new game frenzy. In case you’re not familiar with it, Pokémon Go is a free game in which players use their mobile devices to locate virtual creatures that appear “visible” on screen against a backdrop of wherever players happen to be. Players can spend hours walking around looking for Pokémon.
While it might seem silly to walk around looking for imaginary creatures to appear, there is also a real benefit to interactive games such as these. Not only can children release their boundless energy, but seniors can also benefit from the exercise related to this game. Virtual reality is no longer just associated with young children looking to remain occupied. Seniors can benefit, too!
How Pokemon Go is Helping Seniors Get Moving
Pokémon Go and games like it, promote senior health and vitality in more ways than one. While most video games require you to remain seated and glued to your TV screen, new and innovative games require the player to get up and move. The beauty of games like Pokemon Go is that active seniors can go for a walk, play a game, and encounter other gamers “in the wild” at local parks and communities. Gameplay encourages seniors to get out and interact within their neighborhood and communities, and possibly connect with their grandkids, or people of all ages.
Older adults who may not be as active as they once were due to an injury are also finding joy in the game. A Florida nursing home / rehabilitation center is now using Pokemon Go to help residents rehab from injuries, such as a broken hip.
Seniors Seeing the World … Virtually
Virtual games represent a combination of physical, mental, and social engagement that can be just as much fun for older adults as it is young people. Mental stimulation is equally as important as physical activity in terms of senior health. Both can truly improve the quality of life for seniors. Pokémon Go however isn’t the only way virtual reality can positively affect seniors.
Dr. Sonia Kim, founder and CEO of One Caring Team, has recognized the positive impact the use of virtual reality can have on seniors. Dr. Kim created the Aloha Virtual Reality Program to address the needs of many seniors who are confined to their homes or living facilities.
Dr. Kim’s program provides seniors with virtual reality goggles that transports the user into a virtual world, or fantasy world if you will. Seniors, like 103 year old Virginia Anderlini of San Francisco, CA, may no longer be able to take long plane trips to the beaches of Hawaii, but with Dr. Kim’s Aloha VR, she can escape to these beaches right from her living room couch. By wearing goggles created by Dr. Kim, Anderlini, is transported to the warm sunny beaches of Hawaii, a place she has never been and given her physical condition, would not likely visit. Dr. Kim is not the only professional noticing the post effect virtual reality can have on the quality of life for seniors.
Virtual Reality: Creating New Experiences to Share For Seniors
Reed Hayes and Dennis Lilly of the MIT Sloan School of Management, have also joined the virtual reality bandwagon. These two MIT graduates founded Renderer Health. Fashioned similarly to Dr. Kim’s Aloha VR Program, their product is designed to enhance the cognitive and social skills of seniors. The pair have been testing their product at senior living facilities.
Through the use of virtual reality goggles and headsets, Hayes and Lilly have seen firsthand the positive effects of virtual reality. Hayes stated “We started to notice once they were done with the demo they would go back to their friends at their table and talk about what the experiences. It was social, it lit a spark”.
Dr. Marc Argonin of Miami, FL also promotes the benefit of virtual reality for seniors. Dr. Argonin believes that virtual reality can help seniors in the following ways.
Dr. Argonne believes that virtual reality is the way of the future and a viable tool to help treat many conditions such as arthritis or Parkinson’s disease. While not curing arthritis or Parkinson’s disease, virtual reality games can help increase muscle strength thereby improving the quality of life for many.
Virtual reality is no longer just a fun pastime for the young. Seniors can benefit from the use of virtual reality often more times than younger adults. The benefits of virtual reality can improve the quality of life for many older adults.
Do you have an older loved one who plays Pokemon Go or enjoys video or virtual reality games? What experiences have you had with them while playing? What do they like most about it? Let us know in the comments below.