Master's Thesis

Development and Evaluation of a VR Application to help elderly people coping with loneliness and mild cognitive impairments


Linda Graf

Processing Period:

26.11.2018 - 27.05.2019


Older adults suffer from loneliness (e.g. death of spouse) and mild cognitive impairments. As studies could show, depressive symptoms in elderly are one of the best predictors of morality (Ganguli, 2002) it is more than important to improve elderly’s well-being.  The use of positive technology includes a lot of different technology, e.g. eBooks to navigate through the internet, smartphones, or even game consoles (e.g. Nintendo Wii). But Virtual Reality using a Head-Mounted-Display (HMD) has the special benefit to create and realistic environments, the user wants to visit. It provides a fully immersive experience, which increased the sense of presence that in turn is important to experience the emotions that should be transferred by the digital content (Ravaja et al., 2004; Zyda, 2005). Therefore, VR has become a useful tool to provide well-being in patients in the medical sector. 

This master thesis focuses on the conception, implementation and evaluation of a Virtual Reality (VR) application to help elderly people to cope with loneliness and mild cognitive impairments. Ageing is associated with loosing cognitive abilities but older adults also have to deal with increased loss of relatives and in turn with the feeling of loneliness.  

The application will be designed for elderly people who indeed live on their own at home, but alone without any other,  and will provide the elderly the opportunity to escape from their daily routine by either exploring the virtual world and enjoy the virtual nature, or by solving playful, challenging exercises. 

These challenging exercises will be implemented in form of two Mini-Games, one with the focus of dealing with loneliness and the other with focus of cognitive training. Thereby, the elderly should integrate the use of the application into their everyday life to make “one virtual tour a day”. So they can feel less lonely and improve their cognitive abilities.