Effect of Virtual Reality on Older Populations

The number of ageing population in the world is rising rapidly. In 2017, the global population aged ?60 years was 962 million, more than twice as large as in 1980, when there were 382 million older people in the world. In 2030, the number of older people are expected to exceed the number of children under 10 years of age (1.41 vs. 1.35 billion) and projected to double again, reaching almost 2.1 billion, by 2050. Globally, the number of older adults aged ?80 years has been calculated to increase more than threefold between 2017 and 2050, surging from 137 million to 425 million.

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Ageing is a complex process with a number of physical, psychological and social changes, which can lead to diseases and ailments, and further diminish happiness levels of older populations. As defined by Tatarkiewicz et al. happiness is “a lasting, complete, and justified satisfaction with life as a whole” . A previous study indicated that negative feelings can be reduced and happiness can be improved through physical activity, which contributes to healthy ageing by preventing disabilities, morbidities, and mortality in older adults. Significant elements of mental health can be improved by advocating happiness in older adults.

Ageing is also accompanied by a progressive loss of muscle mass, which was further linked with functional declines and consequently adds to a worsening in the quality of life (QoL). Additionally, physical activity is seen to influence the QoL of older adults on different occasions. The QoL among the elderly can be characterized by objective and subjective dimensions. The objective dimension relates to the standard of living, income, educational level, health status, and longevity. The subjective dimension pertains to psychological responses by the individual such as satisfaction, happiness, and self-ratings. Most older people evaluate their QoL as a good condition based on objective dimensions, while subjective dimensions also play an important role in the evaluation.

Several emerging assistive technologies are seen to improve the QoL among older populations including internet-based physical activity programs, gamification to improve physical activity, etc. Virtual reality (VR) is also an emerging technology with the potential to improve well-being and QoL, muscle activity and balance and physical activity, with evidence of positive effects on social and emotional well-being and cognition.

Our previous study showed the use, acceptance, and adoption of VR among older people. Perceptions that VR is useful, is easy to use, and provides a pleasant experience showing the positive attitudes of older adults towards adopting this new technology. VR-based tai chi exercises were also seen to provide a protective effect for several cognitive and physical functions in an older population with cognitive impairment .

Although studies showed positive evidence of VR interventions among older adults, research still indicates a need for further exploration to address the effectiveness of VR for physical functioning and QoL aspects. Our study investigated the effects of VR sessions on the QoL, happiness, and functional fitness components of older adults, with a pilot study conducted for a 6-week duration. Evaluations used questionnaires for a subjective assessment and functional fitness tests. 

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Effect Of Virtual Reality On Older Populations. (2021, Mar 22). Retrieved December 4, 2022 , from
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