Seven ways technology can foster joy in older adults

older woman and daughter smiling watching broomx

When it comes to technology, jokes abound about how seniors interact with it. 

But, all laughs aside, the latest advances in technology can offer huge rewards to older adults who are living in retirement and long-term-care homes or attending day programs. They can be especially beneficial to seniors with special needs, including those with dementia.

When seniors interact with these groundbreaking, innovative and state-of-the-art devices, they can receive a remarkable array of mental, physical, social and emotional benefits.


The technologies include a pioneering, award-winning, interactive motion-activated projection system from a British company called OM Interactive.

It beams sounds, images and music from a wide variety of applications onto different surfaces, including  tables, floors, ceilings, even bedside tray tables or bedsheets.

The device is accompanied by hundreds of applications, including various activities and games, that are projected. When users interact with them, they are transported on a  variety of dynamic, engaging, stimulating and broadening journeys of discovery. 

The other remarkable piece of  equipment is the latest advance in virtual reality technology, called the BroomX MK360. Made in Spain, this  all-in-one VR system beams a video that stretches across three walls and onto a ceiling all at once, creating a captivating, fully immersive audio and visual experience.  

Being surrounded on all sides and wherever your head can turn makes you feel like you are right in the moment, gripping the senses of both seeing and hearing. The BroomX  virtual experience  is not only entertaining but engaging cognitively, emotionally and socially.  

Both of these technologies can help foster great joy among older adults, significantly enhancing their overall health and quality of life. Here are seven ways technologies can nurture happiness in older users, which you can learn about by watching the video below, and/or reading the text below it.


Both technologies deliver multisensory experiences, and stimulating the senses, especially visual and auditory, can be a powerful conduit to joy.

Imagine, for instance, being at a beach, gazing into deep blue water up to the horizon and listening to the rhythmic lapping of waves.

You could heighten the experience by adding in the use of other senses. For instance, what about having a real seashell beside you to touch, or a cool beverage to sip. Some aromatherapy using a diffuser to the fragrance emanating from a real plant could perk up the sense of smell. 


The second way this technology can be used to foster joy is through what might be called “virtual tourism.

For older people unable to really travel, whether because of restricted mobility, limited financial resources or other reasons, creating a simulated trip through these technologies could be the next best thing to being there!

Both the interactive, motion-activated and VR systems can open the world to seniors, taking them to new places for new experiences or returning to destinations they have already been to, reliving memorable past experiences that made them smile and will do so again.

In fact, a feasibility study from Ryerson University has shown that virtual tourism provides many of the same positive outcomes as real travel.

The study found participants had a decrease in anxiety and an increase in happiness and excitement. 

As an added benefit, caregivers can also take a much-needed virtual holiday, and enjoy the rewards of relaxation away from their daily workload.


A third way this technology can promote joy is by bringing nature indoors.

We all know the exhilaration created by being in the great outdoors. For people whose access to nature is restricted by their health or mobility limitations, these technologies can bring the outdoors in.

Participants can experience simulated experiences in nature, standing in a forest, watching trees sway, light dapple among the treetops and birds fly, and listening to the chirping of those birds or whistling winds.

  From these sensory experiences created indoors, participants can derive the same benefits as if they were really outdoors.  


These technologies can also promote social connections, both among fellow home residents and with staff.

It’s often much more fun to have joint experiences than solitary ones:  the confidence built by the encouragement of others, the memories made with other people, the giggles induced by shared laughs.

 These technologies offer a range of games and other activities that bring participants together. 

Whether a virtual air hockey game stirs good, old-fashioned competition, or a simulated roller-coaster ride has everyone screaming and tossing their hands in the air with delight, connections are made and happiness is increased. 


Lots of research has demonstrated how enriching interactions among different generations can be for both old and young. These technologies offer activities that they can easily — and happily — participate in together.

Playing the games and activities together can really  reduce the generation gap, offering a variety of shared special experiences for seniors with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. 

Such experiences can not only boost everyone’s moods, but make return visits from the younger generations to the older feel much more enticing and give seniors things to really look forward to.


Both immersive and interactive technologies can give users a real sense of control over their environments  — a feeling they don’t often get living in a retirement or long-term-care home.

Many of the applications beamed by the technologies  are all about cause and effect by the user. 

For instance, with one video, they swipe their hands over floating eggs, causing them to break.   In another, they can step on a coloured ball and watch it splat. Having control over these effects can be very empowering.


Finally,  strolls down memory lane can do wonders for picking up a mood. Feelings of nostalgia and reminiscences can trigger all sorts of positive memories, bringing memorable moments back to life.

 Motion-activated and immersive technologies can take users back in time, whether to their own actual pasts or to more general times and places that might stir happy memories.

These memories can be triggered by still images, moving videos, familiar sounds or even a virtual visit through Google Street View.

It’s tough getting older, no doubt, but the journey can be made much sweeter with these marvellous technologies. There’s nothing better than seeing joy on the face of an older person, thanks to these systems.