Video Game: Why Seniors Should Give It a Try

As of recently, the world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. There is still no cure and the most important thing we can do to avoid getting sick is to stay at home. This is even more important for older adults, who are more likely to have severe or even terminal symptoms. However, it’s understandable that staying inside is extremely difficult and, to be honest, boring. What can you do to make this time easier? Of course, you can read a book, watch a TV show… but in all seriousness, when was the last time you played a video game?

Older generations (anyone not a millennial, most likely) tend to view video games as addictive, violent, mind-numbing, and just a waste of time.

And while it is true that a significant number of gamers around the world (between 1 and 10 percent of the total 2 billion exhibit signs of compulsive addiction, the same can be said of any other activity. There are people out there addicted to all kinds of things.

When it comes to the violence argument, in short, there is simply not enough conclusive evidence to unequivocally prove that violent games cause violent behavior. And who says all games need to be violent? Or that you need to play one of them?

Let’s explore the positive aspects of gaming and why it could be a great activity for senior citizens.

Improved balance and coordination

You may think that playing games is all about sitting down and staring at a screen, but gaming has long since moved on to a completely new level.

Consoles like Wii (that funny-looking gadget where you hold rods in your hands and wave them around) are a great way to get someone who is sedentary to move more. They can, for example, play tennis or golf in front of their screen, and actually be forced to swing and miss.

VR (Virtual Reality) takes this type of experience even further, as it completely immerses you in a virtual world, where you have to move around and perform all kinds of other actions yourself.

As seniors often suffer from mobility challenges and find it hard to find a reason to move more, engaging with this type of game can be highly beneficial. And given the current lockdown situation, these kinds of games are a wonderful way for active seniors to maintain their exercise regime.

Emotional wellbeing

It might sound counterintuitive if you believe that video games are a source of stress and addiction, but the actual facts might prove you wrong.

A study has proven that both occasional and regular gamers report improved wellbeing as opposed to those who don’t play games. While this evidence is based on self-evaluation, the only meaningful way to measure happiness and wellbeing is just that: to ask people how they see their experiences.

Playing games is an excellent way to refocus the mind, alleviate some of the stress and negative emotions we face in the wake of a global pandemic, and win something. These positive effects will then naturally spill over to all other aspects of life as well.

Social interaction

Isolation is one of the most common ailments faced by seniors, and battling it can be a challenge.

While it is recommended to avoid social contact during the perils of the pandemic, seniors who are already living with a partner or a roommate can use this time to bond through playing all kinds of games. On the other hand, those who live alone can always use video games to connect with people online – and some of that good old competitive spirit surely can’t do any harm!

Improved cognitive abilities

Playing a video game will engage their minds in a different way. And anything that is new and previously unexplored is a great way to train the brain.

Not to mention that there are video games specifically designed to help you improve brain power – and as we get older, exercising our brains becomes just as important as taking care of our bodies.

Alzheimer’s, one of the most problematic conditions among the senior population, might also be prevented this way. True, we’re still not sure how it develops and how best to treat it, but the more active and engaged our brains, the less likely we are to suffer from it.

In other words: encourage your elderly patients to give their brain a new challenge  as often as you can, and use modern technology to your advantage.

It’s fun

People who have fun are happier and healthier than those who don’t )– it’s as simple as that. And once you overcome your initial doubts about video games, you will begin to realize the basic truth behind their popularity: they are incredibly fun.

There’s a game out there for anyone, whether they want to play house, drive a Formula 1, survive on the battlefield, or solve crimes. All you have to do is help them follow their interests and find the best platform for them.

After all, you can see for yourself. You don’t have to become a pro gamer to experience some of the benefits of gaming – and as video games are more accessible than ever, why miss the opportunity. Especially now when you’re cooped up inside anyway.



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