One possible lamentable aspect of aging is perhaps experiencing the increasing gap of interests between family members. What is relevant differs from generation to generation, from international affairs to popular culture. That video games will rot your brain is the general opinion of most parents and grandparents, but in this case, video games may serve to unite two (even three) generations of family.
Exergames and Senior Health
These “exergames”—video games that combine exercise with game play, most notably with the Nintendo Wii platform—have shown signs of improving symptoms of subsyndromal depression (SSD) in seniors, according to University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine. Seniors aged 63 to 94 took part in this research by playing Wii video games in 35-minute sessions three times a week. The results were encouraging; though some participants worried about their performance during these exergames, by the end of the study, most participants claimed to enjoy the experience and were able to improve upon their past performances.
Exergames serve not only to keep seniors involved in a physical activity, thereby aiding their health, but it also brings participants together. Wii games often involve multiple players, and Nintendo makes it a point to advertise Wii games with family members of varying generations at play together. No matter the age, the principle is the same: fun, mentally and physically challenging, relationship-building games. In fact, the Wii is being integrated as part of many fitness programs in retirement homes across America.
The Wii Fit
The platform more popular for fitness in the Nintendo realm is the aptly named Wii Fit, which provides different types of hand-held controllers for differing activities such as yoga, while guidance is provided on the television screen before the player. Different players approach the Wii Fit differently; some may prefer it to the games on the general Wii, which are more competitive in nature.
Another Nintendo option (although there are many gaming platforms) is the Nintendo DS, which is a handheld device much like the beloved GameBoy. Brain Age and Brain Age II are marketed toward adults who want to stay mentally sharp. Flash Focus is another DS game geared to improve the player’s memory. Flash Focus shows the player a scene and inquires about one aspect of the scene when it goes away—what color was this, what was in whose hand, how many of these, etc. These two games still appeal to various age groups and improve upon visual recognition skills, memory, and quick thinking.
All it takes to improve upon one’s fitness, sharpness of mind, and social skills as a senior, it seems, is the open mind it takes to try one’s hand at an exergame. What may be more difficult is prying that hand away from the controller when there’s too much fun to be had for one.
Guest Author: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online schools. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.