Impact of Virtual Reality (VR) Experience on Older Adults’ Well-Being


Charles Xueyang Lin, Chaiwoo Lee, Dennis Lally, Joseph F. Coughlin


Aging often leads to decreased social engagement. While technology has the potential to improve the quality of life among older adults, not much is known about effects of new technologies, including virtual reality (VR) applications, on their well-being. This paper reports on a field study conducted with older adults in assisted living communities to understand how use of a VR system may contribute to their emotional and social well-being. During the study, a two-week intervention was done with an experimental group that used a VR system to view contents related to travel and relaxation, and a control group that used a TV to view the same contents. Feedback collected before and after the intervention showed that the VR application provided more benefits compared to the control condition. Participants that used the VR system reported being less socially isolated, being less likely to show signs of depression, experiencing positive affects more frequently, and feeling better about their overall well-being. While the study has limitations to its generalizability, findings show the potential for using VR applications for improving the quality of life among the aging population.