Increasing quality of life for older adults living in collective dwellings using virtual reality: a feasibility study
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 10:07 by Laura Krieger
The number of older adults living in collective dwellings is increasing. It is important to research effective strategies to maintain and enhance quality of life for older adults living in collective dwellings. Meaningful leisure, such as the ability to travel, is associated with increases in quality of life for older adults. Unfortunately, many older adults, especially those living in collective dwellings, face barriers to travel. Virtual reality (VR) may help older adults living in collective dwellings overcome barriers to travel. The present study examined whether older adults living in collective dwellings tolerated and enjoyed immersive VR, and whether six weeks of virtual tourism affected their quality of life, social engagement, and loneliness. Fourteen older adults living in retirement homes in Toronto participated in this study. Results suggested that participants tolerated immersive VR without experiencing cybersickness, and that they were happier, more excited, and less anxious immediately following VR exposure. Levels of social engagement increased following the six-week virtual tourism program. These quantitative findings were further supported by qualitative interviews. No changes in quality of life or loneliness were found. Limitations include a lack of a control group and small sample size. Addressing these limitations will help to isolate the effects of the virtual tourism program on indices of well-being.