Virtual Reality as a Means to Meet the Specific Needs of Seniors

Vera Suchomelova, Karolina Diallo, Michal Vavrecka

OBJECTIVES: The aim of the article is to present possibilities and limits of the use of virtual reality (VR) in keeping residents in senior homes active and to show how VR can contribute to meeting the needs of residents. THEORETICAL BASE: Thanks to its key features – immersiveness and interactivity – VR technology brings new opportunities to seniors of the so-called fourth age, which is often associated with physical, mental and social disabilities. Current studies document the effect of VR use in the training of cognitive and psychomotor function or reduction of social isolation. METHODS: We chose the qualitative study, carried out in January 2021 in a nursing home. The research sample consisted of 12 participants aged 63 to 100, with different cognitive and senso-motor levels. OUTCOMES: A properly designed virtual experience can support the fulfillment of the need for self-esteem and value, the need for meaning and continuity of life story, the need to be part of a community and the need to transcend everyday life. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: Based on the findings we define aspects of the meaningful involvement of VR in activity programs in the nursing home and risks of inappropriate use, which can lead to rejection of the method by both clients and activity staff.

virtual reality, seniors, keeping active, nursing home, needs

p. 5-18

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