Video games are often associated with younger generations who are content to sit inside and stare at glowing screens for hours on end. However, a relatively new type of technology called active gaming has caught on, not only with youths but also with an unexpected demographic: the elderly. The valuable difference between traditional video games and interactive gaming systems is that the latter require players to physically engage in the activities that are taking place onscreen.
The Nintendo Wii is one home video game console that has pioneered active gaming and fitness games. Because of their simpler interface and ability to get players up and moving, Wii games have become a popular multigenerational activity in private homes and a staple on activity calendars at senior centers and long-term care facilities. Favorite Wii games for seniors include Wii Sports, which features interactive tennis, bowling, baseball, boxing and golf, and Wii Fit, an integrative system that helps players maintain a healthy weight and improve their strength and balance through games and aerobic activities.
With that in mind, here are four compelling videos demonstrating how elders can enjoy gaming and why your parent might benefit from a video game system of their very own.
1. Even the calmest elder among us needs to let off a little steam occasionally. Video games can provide valuable mental stimulation, regardless of whether it is paired with physical activity.
2. As explained above, video game systems can provide an easy method of at-home exercise. Regular physical activity can help maintain and improve muscle tone, coordination, balance and strength in seniors. These are important skills to hone for preventing falls, which can have serious consequences for older adults.
3. Gaming can provide valuable social opportunities with peers and help bridge the generation gap. Playing interactive videogames can be a wholesome and accessible way for seniors to connect with younger visitors like school volunteers and their own grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
4. Finally, many elders are music enthusiasts and once enjoyed dancing as a hobby. Wii games like the Just Dance series can give an aging loved one the opportunity to dance like no one's watching to music from several decades and genres.
If you believe a loved one might benefit from a bit of screen time, both used and new video game systems are available at various price points online and in retail stores. Carefully consider the type of interface each system uses and how easily a senior will be able to learn and handle any controls that come with it. Having a loved one try out a system in-store or at a local senior center or adult day care center can help guide your purchase.
When it comes to choosing video games for seniors, look for subjects and activities that coincide with their interests. There are countless games available in different genres and difficulty levels. The Entertainment Software Rating Board uses a helpful rating system that ranges from “Early Childhood” for young children to “Adults Only” for players 18 and older.