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Video Games Can Help Seniors Maintain Their Overall Well-Being

by Frank Herold
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Many products boast that they are, "fun for all ages" but few actually deliver on that promise. Senior citizens are quickly realizing that video games are one of the few activities that every generation can enjoy. Video games provide many benefits that help keep people alert, active, and happy as they age.

 

Related blog: 5 WAYS TO KEEP THE MIND SHARP IN THE LATER YEARS OF LIFE

 

What Are the Benefits of Gaming?

 

Emotional

There are numerous studies that suggest the ability of video games to promote emotional well being. This study found that senior citizens who were regular or occasional players of video games had an increased sense of well being, social functioning, and self reported health, when compared to non-gamers. People who play games also reported less depression than non-gamers. 

 

Mental

A study conducted by a team from the University of Montreal states that 3-D platform games (like Super Mario) can help to avoid cognitive impairment and can possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. 

The study suggests that playing these games regularly may increase grey matter in the brain's hippocampus. Grey matter is found in the regions of the brain that function in muscle control, sight, hearing, emotions, speech, and decision making. Preserving grey matter is important because we tend to lose it as we age. 

 

Physical

Video games require fast decision making. This activity engages the brain and requires it to work to solve problems. This "brain exercise" has been observed to improve older adults' ability to walk for fitness and recreation. Video games also help arthritis patients to reduce pain and improve mobility in their hands. 

A relatively recent development in video games are games that require actual physical activity. These are a great way for seniors to get legitimate cardiovascular workouts while their minds are occupied by the gameplay. 

 

Social

Video games are a social activity that keeps seniors engaged with family and friends. Some people have the tendency to isolate themselves as they grow older. This isolation has negative effects on their overall well-being. Video games offer a way to spend time with younger family members which provides priceless bonding time that is good for all aspects of health. Game playing also gives older adults the chance to bond with new and old friends to keep their social life happy and healthy. 

 

The Type of Game Matters

The specific benefit of playing video games can vary with the type of game. As mentioned earlier, 3-D platform games can aid in a number of cognitive functions and the development of new grey matter in the brain. Additionally, memory and puzzle games are an effective therapy for aphasia, which is a disorder that prevents people from understanding or expressing speech.  

Complex strategy games, like the classic multiplayer World of Warcraft, are observed to improve both spatial ability and cognitive focus. 

 

Which Game Consoles Are Good For Seniors?

There are more options for gaming now than ever, and seniors can take advantage of each one. 

 

Mobile Devices

Apple and Android devices put thousands of games at our fingertips. There are many great gaming options that are easily downloadable. A mobile device gives older adults the ability to reap the benefits of gaming from any location at any time. 

 

Nintendo Wii

Though the original Wii console debuted in 2007, it changed the face of gaming forever. This system was the first to implement successful motion control. This led to a whole generation of games that were not only fun but also physically engaging. Wii games give seniors a convenient and safe way to exercise while playing fun games. With a Wii console, they can enjoy bowling, yoga, tennis, and many other more physical games from the comfort of their living room or activity area. 

Essentially, any console, computer system, or mobile device can be a good therapeutic tool for older adults. As long as it keeps them engaged mentally and physically, older adults will benefit from video game play. 

 

Video Games for Seniors

Scientific research has shown us the legitimate benefits that video games have for older adults. It is important for seniors to engage their brain consistently to ward off dementia, cognitive damage, depression, and a host of other things that threaten their health. 

 

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