The use of welfare technologies has increased in elderly health care over the last 20 years in order to make elderly people more self-reliant as a response to demographic challenges. A newer example of well fare technology with respect to promote the sense of wellbeing and quality of life is virtual reality simulating nature. Forest bathing also known as Shinrin-Yoko is a Japanese phenomenon from the 1980s referring to time spend in nature with the aim of taking in the forest atmosphere as a means to meditation and relaxation while immersed in nature. An increasing number of studies have investigated the psychological and physiological therapeutic benefits of forest bathing. Forest bathing has, among other things, a positive influence on mood and signs of depression, anxiety, anger, energy, exhaustion and confusion. The aim of this article is to present results from testing a virtual reality device, VR-N3 with sensory stimulation representing forest nature. Data was collected through observations and qualitative individual first person interviews with 16 elderly mobility-constrained individuals living in their own home (71-98 years). Each participant takes part in a virtual representation of the forest twice with pre-and post-interviews. Four themes emerged through the analysis: 1) To feel one with nature - The Real Thing, 2) The fluidity of space and time, 3) Re-experiences and anticipations and 4) Changing mood with nature. The virtual exposure with visual impressions and recognizable sounds from animals, birds and insects can lead the participant to an illusory reality creating an experience of cessation of time and space. The natural surroundings, light and sounds in virtual exposure are experienced as soothing and relaxing and as having an almost therapeutic character. The nature experience though can evoke as well pleasant as more disturbing memories, both experiences leaving a sense of relief and relaxation.
Keywords: Well fare technology, virtual reality, forest bathing, quality of life and well-being
- Teknik, ingeniørvidenskab og IT
- Well fare technology, virtual reality, forest bathing, quality of life and well-being
- Sundhed, ernæring og livskvalitet