These seniors are turning to cutting edge technology to stay connected during the pandemic

A participant uses his MyndVR headset to go on a virtual fishing trip.

(CNN)Clouds whizzed by as US Air Force Pilot Richard Merrill flew through the air.

The ground moved quickly beneath him while he soared faster and faster through the sky.
When it came time to land some 10 minutes later, Merrill removed the virtual reality headset from his head, blinked, and he was back in his assisted living facility in Hockessin, Delaware.
    Merrill is a resident at The Summit, where he can spend some of his time reliving the 1950s when he was a pilot in the Air Force, through virtual reality technology.
      A photo from the 1950s of Richard Merrill in the US Air Force.
      In the midst of a pandemic, with limits on in-person family visits and strict social distancing guidelines, some residents at assisted living homes are turning to new ways to interact with the world around them.
      Through virtual reality and interactive gaming, older Americans are learning to stay connected and thrive during the pandemic.
      Virtual reality is making its way into assisted living communities across the county to allow residents to explore the world without leaving their rooms.
        Richard Merrill using the MyndVR virtual reality system.
        Merrill, who had never used virtual reality technology before this year, said he's enjoyed "flying" during the pandemic. "It's a wonderful machine for living somewhere else when you know you're stuck here," Merrill said.
        "When I'm in the machine, I'm in another world, a world in which I'm very familiar with," Merrill said.
        Tuck Wilson, a resident at The Virginian in Fairfax, Virginia, also used the virtual reality program to relive old memories such as traveling across Europe, while visiting new places she never had the chance to see.
        "I was like a child with a new toy," Wilson said. "I was utterly fascinated."
        Some of the virtual reality programs include traveling, attending concerts and more. One of the more unique programs that's offered is simply being surrounded by a litter of puppies.
        "One dog started toward my legs, and I just automatically drew back, so that shows you how into virtual reality I was," Wilson said.
        Both Merrill and Wilson used virtual programs sold by MyndVR, a virtual reality company that caters specifically to older adults with the goal of making them feel less isolated.
        In addition to using VR to escape the world around them, MyndVR technology also motivates older adults to interact more with other residents, according to Wilhelima Saluto, the creative arts specialist at Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Manhattan.
        "After their experience with it, they tend to socialize w