LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Social isolation can be a major health risk for people as they age.

According to the CDC, loneliness can increase the risk of depression, dementia and even death.

However, a cutting-edge tool is helping some seniors stay connected.

On a rainy day at River Spring Senior Living Center in New York City, therapist Dominique Fickling leads a trip a world away.

She’s taking residents to the beach, but there’s no sunscreen needed.

Her retirement home is one of the hundreds now using virtual reality as a form of fun and therapy.

A company called Rendever designed VR sets specifically for seniors.

“Surprisingly, elderly people adapt better than young people. They love change when it comes to fun things, interesting things, and they really have embraced this,” said River Spring Chief Operating Officer David Pomeranz.

After surgery or a major life change, seniors can use actual images of home, to practice in occupational therapy.

Games are a way to connect. Friends Al and Arnold, get competitive by popping virtual balloons.

“Me and Al are very similar. He beats me every time! Hahaha,” said Arnold.

Virtual experiences can create powerful emotions, like when residents return to the block where they grew up.

Marjorie Bryant went back to Harlem street where she remembers playing as a girl

She was right there with friends again as virtual reality finds a new generation of older fans.