senior gaming: seniors want to play, too

Senior Gaming. Why Not?

Not only our kids are gamers anymore. Our parents and grandparents are becoming gamers, and they’re pretty good at it, too. According to a stud* conducted at the North Carolina State, gaming may actually have a positive effect on better physical and mental health during the course of aging. This is a complete game changer (pun perhaps intended) considering that up until now gaming was seen as a means of entertainment strictly for young people.

But given the chance, older adults are becoming gamers as well, and it does seem to have many positive side effects. The study concludes that “60% of the sample was either a regular or occasional gamer. Differences among the groups were found for well-being, negative affect, social functioning, and depression with regular and occasional gamers performing better, on average, than non-gaming older adults. Findings suggest that playing may serve as a positive activity associated with successful aging.”

The days when gaming was seen as a waste of time and energy are long gone. Now that scientists have actually started looking into the physical and mental benefits of gaming, they are slowly coming to the conclusion that it may be one of the best ways to keep the body and mind sharp, even and especially at an advanced age.

What do seniors like to play?

AARP partnered with the Entertainment Software Association to survey almost 3,000 people in the age range of 50 – 70 and their relationship to gaming. The survey showed a clear preference for specific types of games, such as card or tile games, puzzle or logic games, trivia, word games and traditional board games. But it doesn’t stop there. The Wii gaming platform actually incorporates arm and body movement, and many physical therapists use it as a part of therapy, because of its lightness and effectiveness. That way seniors can play golf, bowling or tennis with all the benefits of movement but a significantly reduced risk of sport-related injuries.

The benefits of senior gaming are astounding.

Playing games is proven to have a positive effect on cognitive activity of older adults by providing constant and varied stimulation and memory training. People recovering from stroke have used Wii games and other gaming systems to improve arm strength and regain physical condition. The distraction that video games offer can also successfully serve as a pain relief.

When done offline in a group or even online with strangers, gaming also brings invaluable benefits from socialization and helps preventing psychological and psychosomatic illnesses connected with aging and a solitary lifestyle, that is so often seen in older people.

One of the greatest things about games is that they often come for free, or at a very low price. The fast development of technology and gaming consoles specifically causes prices of the older pieces to constantly decrease, so getting a second-hand laptop or a console of any kind may be a question of a few hundred bucks. And that is a small price to pay considering the endless hours of helpful entertainment that they can offer in return.

Many seniors don’t trust technology because they don’t know how to operate it, they have issues with trusting the security of online gaming or they simply feel like it’s nothing for them because they feel too old for it. Providing the elderly with patient guidance through the getting-to-know process is an important role that caregivers, relatives and even senior home nurses should consider taking on. The life quality improvement is indisputable.