Senior Center Residents And Kids With Autism Experience Virtual Reality: Not Only Fun, But Beneficial (+podcast)

Sunday, July 10 2022 by Richard D. Hunt

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Robbie uses VR headsets to help child who has autism and seniors in care homes
Aviant Healthcare
Robbie uses VR headsets to help child who has autism and seniors in care homes

VR Virtual Reality technology is not limited to young gamers who wear headsets to increase the reality of software fun. The elderly are now getting an eyeful – and they like it!

Clarence ‘Robbie’ Robinson, a senior center volunteer at age 87, recently brought VR headsets to Thrive Care Homes in Littleton, Colorado. Aviant Healthcare had been given the headsets through a program that helped seniors who could not travel during the pandemic due to health concerns. Robbie credits Aviant’s Barbara Lotze will giving him the encouragement to give VR headsets a try on his visits. 

The reaction from the care home residents? “It was beyond all expectations. They didn’t want to take them off!,” shares Robbie with a smile in his voice. “It brought back memories that they wanted to talk with you about. That made my day.”

Robbie’s faith is one reason he continues to help others, even at age 87. “I’m not afraid to stand up and say, ‘I’ve been blessed by the Lord.’”

What are some of the popular VR imagery visits? “They wanted to tour Hawaii. They wanted to experience London form the day. They wanted to tour Antarctica, tour of Italy, Alaskan cruise, Bavaria, Germany, tour of India, experience Paris, tour of England, Ireland, Scotland, see the tulip fields in Holland.” One VR tour request worried Robbie a little. “One lady wanted to see skydiving and I tried to talk her out of it…we don’t want them to get motion sickness.” But he admits, “This lady would not let me off the hook ... and then she jumped out of a plane, virtually. Ha, much safer that way.” Her reaction to skydiving? “She was elated. She loved it!.” Some residents asked to see video of their hometown where they grew up, and that brought smiles.

Robbie also volunteers for families with special needs.

Robbie does not hide the fact that volunteering brings him a lot of joy. “Well, of course. And my reward, obviously, to see people having fun, it’s so much better to see people smile, to talk, it’s a wonderful experience ... This is a gift that I love doing and I get my reward when I see the people light up – that’s what my reward is.” He urges others to consider volunteering where they live.

The reason Robbie took an interest in VR has a sad note. Not long ago, he lost his wife of 65 years to Alzheimer’s. “This is a terrible disease.” And she wasn’t able to experience VR excursions because he didn’t have the headsets. So now, as he volunteers, “If I could bring back some memories and enjoyment that would be a blessing.” And it clearly is. 

Robbie is definitely a personality, as you'll hear in our complete interview podcast:

Seniors taking VR
[Photo Credit: Aviant Healthcare ] Seniors taking VR 'excursions' 
VR headsets in use at senior home
[Photo Credit: Aviant Healthcare] VR headsets in use at senior home


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