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The Benefits of Playing Video Games for the Elderly

Keeping the mind and body fit is an important aspect of elderly health, and there are many activities suitable for this purpose. One you might not have thought of, likely because it is more commonly marketed toward the young, is playing video games The staff at Summit Home Care Assistance wants to share a few potential ways your senior loved one can benefit from this recreational activity.

Cognitive Stimulation

Research is still being done, but scientists believe video games may slow cognitive decline. The National Science Foundation recently awarded a grant to researchers at North Carolina State University to determine the value of video games on mental health. Preliminary studies have shown seniors who played video games for 5 weeks had memory skills, attention spans, and reaction times comparable to younger adults in the same study.

Boosts in Eye Health

Though many people believe staring at a television screen is bad for the eyes, studies have shown seniors with impaired vision may actually benefit from it. The Vision Development Lab at McMaster University in Ontario found seniors with cataracts who played first-person shooter games experienced increased vision. Researchers believe the benefits to vision are due to the fast-paced nature of these games, which helps train visually impaired eyes to see more clearly.

Pain Relief

If your loved one experiences chronic pain, playing video games may help him or her find relief through distraction. Psychologists at the University of Washington developed a game for soldiers in hospitals who were recovering from battlefield wounds. Those who played the game were found to need less pain medication than those who didn’t.

Emotional Wellness

A study done by researchers at North Carolina State University discovered seniors who played video games at least once a week reported increased feelings of happiness. Those who didn’t play reported negative emotions that leaned toward depression. The study also notes seniors didn’t have to play games on a gaming system to receive the emotional benefits. Games typically played as applications on smartphones or tablets can increase the positive feelings as well.

Opportunities for Socialization

Many senior centers have included interactive video game systems like Nintendo Wii as part of their activities. Seniors can play games like bowling and tennis on the Wii together. This increases social interaction, allows for friendly competition, and helps seniors get some exercise.

Playing videos games is just one of many activities that can boost your loved one’s overall wellbeing. At Home Care Assistance, our caregivers are trained in a variety of activities designed to promote senior health, including our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method. We also offer comprehensive Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia care in Summit. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Care Managers, call 908.450.9400 today.