Metaverse: Erasing Barriers of Age and Ability

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Retirement is a destination many perceive as a luxurious payoff after a lifetime of hard work and dedication, while others experience it as a loss of purpose and competency. It doesn’t matter if you arrived by accident, or if it’s a crushing reality due to critical injury, many will have to navigate their new identity and inordinate amounts of time.

The effects of retirement

The event that signals the end of a career may be extravagant, gaudy, and garish or simple, mundane, and unremarkable. Regardless of how one’s career concludes, studies show that within the first few years of retirement, people are 40% more likely to become depressed, and 60% more likely to begin abusing substances. “I was in tears, in my bed, after a Super Bowl victory,” said Robert Gronkowski, who had to retire at the age of 29 due to a grueling series of injuries and mental health concerns. At the age of 39, astronaut Buzz Aldrin became the second man on the moon and subsequently returned to earth, becoming an alcoholic and enduring three failed marriages. These are extraordinary post-career examples. However, we can all agree that everyone needs a sense if purpose. This is especially true for retirement.

Young celebrities are not the only ones who will see the sun set on their careers. Most people will reach a point where they are unable to work. My mother has been a nurse for over 50 years. After five decades of patient advocacy, her career ended when she was unable to continue the rigors and challenges of nursing. Ten years after hanging up her scrubs, she has settled into a lovely retirement complete with Netflix marathons, book clubs and grandchildren. Although she may not be as able to save as many lives as she did for half a century, her mind is sharp and she would love to share her medical knowledge with the world.

Related: A Modern Retirement Mindset: Elevate Meaning and Purpose By Becoming ‘Job Optional’

How the metaverse can assist

Enter in the metaverse: A collection of persistent virtual worlds born out of the internet’s dream to reimagine itself without boundaries, while connecting people on a global scale. This new frontier of unlimited experiences can open doors to every walk of life. My mother, for example, can now work virtually in a health care facility without any restrictions. A teacher who is unable to stand or lecture due to limited mobility can still connect with students via the internet and do the same coursework as in a traditional classroom setting. Companies like VictoryXR are creating fully immersive virtual classrooms where students can learn about dinosaurs within arm’s reach of a life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex, or read To Kill a Mockingbird while standing alongside Atticus Finch in a digital recreation of Harper Lee‘s actual courtroom.

Steady progress is also made to make the metaverse more inclusive, not only for the elderly but also for those with disabilities. Virtual reality companies have already come up with AR-enhanced hearing aids and glasses to address hearing and visual impairments, respectively. For people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), the Project VOISS (Virtual Reality Opportunities to Integrate Social Skills) has been introduced, utilizing virtual reality to reenact social communication and assist individuals with ASD therapies. Paraplegics who have difficulty traveling can now visit many places that their financial and physical limitations may have prevented.

With companies like Disney, Apple and Microsoft entering the metaverse, as well as entire cities creating their digital replicas, there is renewed hope that our physical bodies will no longer restrict our exploration of the universe, and that the only limitation we may soon face is our imagination.

Siri – Set a reminder to me every morning to read about the metaverse so I don’t miss a thing.

Related: Some Predictions for How the Metaverse Will Impact Our Lives



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