Gaming for Seniors

Video games aren't just for kids anymore. People of all ages are diving into the imagined worlds of video games, from traditional consoles to mobile apps, and some are proving to have surprising benefits. Gaming can help seniors create new experiences and even stay connected to others.

Elderly gaming, yes, video games for older people, sounds odd, but seniors use the concept to stay connected.

Gaming is no longer solely for the youth. It is an activity that is quickly gaining traction among the elderly.

Similar to Star Wars, gaming is bringing grandma and grandson together in ways unforeseen. Who thought Super Mario Bros would bridge generations and create great recreation and strategic engagement for America’s seniors?

Still, bewildered?

Recent data has revealed that over 40-percent of British seniors are playing video games regularly.

Also, 25-percent of seniors in America have acknowledged their proclivity for digital video games in the past five years.

There is a serious need for discussion about the reality of gaming among seniors.

WHAT’S THE POINT OF ELDERLY GAMING?

Gaming among seniors, Silver Gaming, is an increasing trend. In 2016, nearly 25-percent of people aged 55 and over-owned gaming consoles in their homes.

The game, Bejeweled, boasted over 45-percent of their revenue, above $125 million globally, was associated with a purchase by people over 50 years of age.

Silver Gaming is a trend, a growing trend – it is a thing. Beyond entertainment, Silver Gaming reaps incredible health benefits.

Recent analysis suggests 3D computer games complement efforts to prevent memory loss. This analysis boasts even more positive data points for seniors.

Participants between 55 and 75 played Super Mario 64 daily for over five months. After the study, volunteers exhibited improvements in short-term memory and a more significant grey matter percentage in their brains than is typically found in non-gaming seniors.

In other words, Silver Gaming has cognitive benefits due to physiological preservation. Who would have thought a game like Super Mario Bros would affect many seniors’ quality of aging?

Another data point reflects additional concrete information as to why cognitive preservation is evident.

The hippocampus, which is crucial to memory and typically shrinks with age, was also affected by gaming. Participants playing games such as Super Mario 64 had less shrinkage of the hippocampus because they solve problems.

Therefore, this data point suggests that gaming’s cognitive preservation can positively link to the hippocampus’s physiological protection.

What’s the point? Silver Gaming saves the brain.

WHAT IS SILVER GAMING ALL ABOUT?

Simply put, gaming is fun. Seniors want to experience enjoyment just like any other age demographic.

One of the best methods of educating anyone is by playing a game. Seniors want to learn; seniors wish to experience, seniors want fun – seniors game.

What else does gaming offer seniors? Pandemic relief and connection. Relief in that gaming is a mental relief. It absorbs the monotony many seniors face when working is no longer a part of their life.

Gaming removes seniors from the isolation many face and thrusts them into a world, cyberspace, where others compete and enjoy enjoyment.

Silver Gaming provides seniors with social connections that have never been available to earlier generations because of the world wide web.

Be it mobile devices or consoles, Silver Gamers, many of whom are Baby Boomers, have created yet another cultural shift.

Aging no longer needs to mean a sedentary lifestyle, it can be an engaging, competitive one.

So, for the first time in history, seniors compete in real-time with people worldwide, experiencing positive social connections. Many of the social connections are not with strangers, but with those who matter most – family.

That’s right. Seniors are competing with their grandchildren daily.

The pandemic may preclude them from seeing one another. Gaming, however, will keep them connected.

Grandpa and granddaughter can play together while living miles apart or just around the corner in an assisted living home. Regardless, the two can still cultivate and develop a meaningful and memorable relationship because of gaming.

In no other time have generations been able to connect, electronically, amid a pandemic, with a digital game as the conduit.

Silver Gaming is a thing – a real good thing.

ELDERLY GAMING PICKS – MOBILE GAMES

Gaming is not a complicated undertaking. Seniors can begin gaming without difficulty at all. Many iPhone and Android games are in the app store. Also, other games are on the internet and gaming consoles.

Here are a few suggestions for games.

I. Word Games

The board game, Scrabble, ruled the 70s and 80s. Baby Boomers and the veteran generations loved the game. Scrabble games were a common occurrence in many American homes. Now, Scrabble has morphed, adapted even, into a digital program.

  • Words with Friends is a great game where seniors get the Scrabble effect with 21st-century engagement, all from a cellular phone’s convenience.
  • Wordscapes is another mobile game that combines crossword puzzle features with a word search. Great for a mental exercise by finding and creating words becomes stimulating, motivating, encouraging, and exhilarating.

II. Puzzle Games

The digital space does not prohibit the all-time favorite pastime of puzzle compilation.

  • Candy Crush is crushing it. The goal is quite simple: clear the candy’s board by matching like pieces in a row. Simple enough, but the pursuit is more valuable than the destination. The process of getting to the goal engages the mind of a senior in a plethora of ways. And, it is merely fun.
  • Two Dots is an easy game that is irresistible. Using your finger, the player draws a horizontal or vertical line between dots of the same color. Any player interested in problem-solving skill development will find the plethora of levels incredibly engaging.

ELDERLY GAMING PICKS – CONSOLES FOR OLDER GAMERS

Gaming consoles are everywhere. Most American households, especially those with youth, have a console for gaming.

In reality, many American households have multiple gaming consoles due to the latest and greatest displacing the “older” ones from the previous year.

Gaming is a multi-billion-dollar business expanding daily, and “older” displaced consoles really could be put to great use.

Accessing a gaming console does not have to be a challenge – It is also not cost prohibitive. Pre-owned and refurbished models are widely available at an incredibly reduced price. Those older displaced consoles find their way to Craig’s List and other digital platforms for sale at nominal prices.

With a speedy evolution of technology, old is not what it used to be. Many pre-owned and refurbished models are available in stores such as GameStop.

Some of the more popular consoles include:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Nintendo Wii

Once assisted living homes purchase the console, seniors can use it to play any game of choice. Some of the more popular games include the following:

1. Wii Sports (for Nintendo Wii)

Considered an older game, Wii Sports offers seniors significant health benefits. Bowling, tennis, and golf are just three of the most popular games on Wii. There are dual benefits to the Wii Sports suite of games.

  • First, the game engages the mental faculties of playing sports in real life. The strategy and tactical execution of sports open and create neural pathways in poorly developed parts of the brain.
  • Second, the game engages much of the physical activity, absent the great outdoors and extreme physical demand, the actual sports require. Seniors can play tennis without the great exertion required on the real court. It is fantastic because all of the movements are still occurring, which is outstanding for a senior.

The mental benefits combined with the physical make Wii Sports quite the ideal choice for Silver Gamers.

2. Call of Duty

Is your senior ex-military? How about just an American who enjoyed shows like M.A.S.H.? These are not requirements – just an American reality. Americans support and love our military. We regard their service highly and respect their sacrifice. Additionally, military games have been a part of American life for many years. Some older games that were similar to Call-of-Duty include:

  • Battleship
  • Tetris
  • Centipede
  • Asteroids

Playing military games requires a significant level of attention, strategy, and engagement. Call of Duty can satisfy the military patriot in all of us. It is engaging. It is exciting. It thrusts the player into a situation where planning and execution enable survival. Yes, it is violent – all war is. Yet, Silver Gamers are adults. They know the difference between virtual reality and real life. Call of Duty gives military buffs a tremendously engaging and quite challenging gaming experience. Regardless of a senior’s military service, Call of Duty is a great game.

3. Super Mario Bros. Wii

Many seniors had children who played Super Mario Bros. in its earlier form in the 80s. Donkey Kong and Mario are icons in the gaming world. The colorful worlds of this game are incredibly stimulating. The aim: Rescue Princess Peach, who can’t seem to elude capture. With each rescue comes a new, more challenging level. If rescuing Princess alludes to you as the levels increase in difficulty, the game will offer a tutorial. Now, remembering the strategy taught in the tutorial must be executed in the game. Not only is the great encouragement, but it’s also learning. Silver Gamers are learning new and innovative skills, which are of great use in beating their grandchildren when competition time is underway. These techniques are how the silver gamer preserves the brain with gaming. The brain of a Silver Gamer is in full use, as it was in high school.

Additional Benefits of Gaming

Silver gaming offers so many benefits, all of which cannot be possibly detailed here. However, some prevailing benefits can help vulnerable populations experience improvement in their quality of life.

Here are just a few additional benefits.

  • Slowing the Aging Process
  • Reduction in Pain
  • New Social Connections
  • Enhanced Balance in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Improvement in Decision-making Skills
  • Curbing Hunger Cravings
  • Reduction in Stress

ELDERLY GAMING: THE END OF THE MATTER

The verdict is in; silver gaming is a thing. It is increasing daily. Gaming is helping many seniors thrive in assisted living homes across America.

The pandemic may prevent travel and visitation, but it has not extinguished gaming.

Dementia and brain atrophy, typically regarded as a naturally occurring aging process, are reduced and even prevented by gaming. Seniors over 55 years of age are showing incredible health benefits because of gaming.

Gaming does not come in a one-size-fits-all package either.

From mobile devices to formal consoles, gaming is accessible to seniors. And yet, there is another benefit. Gaming is helping seniors maintain meaningful connections with family and friends. For the first time, grandparents and grandchildren can play the same game, at the same time, in different locations.

Competition and conversation accompany this gaming experience. That’s right, with the proper equipment, seniors can talk to their competitors, grandchildren especially, while they are playing. Simply amazing.

So, the pandemic may have squashed Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, but it cannot stop grandpa from interacting with grandson.

Silver Gaming is a beautiful thing. Assisted living homes offer seniors a variety of ways to game. The data is undeniable as it pertains to health benefits. Beyond that, assisted living homes are places of great engagement and community involvement.

Gaming consoles offer seniors the opportunity to challenge one another and other global citizens.

The friendship and rivalries create an environment within the home similar to seniors’ vibrant lives in their youth.

STAY UP TO DATE WITH WHAT SENIORS NEED

For more information about silver gaming and the incredible benefits, get connected with the Residential Assisted Living National Association.

You can register for a free membership at www.RALNA.com.

RALNA helps owners and operators of assisted living homes expand their environments to incorporate growing trends, gain group discounts and obtain legal support.

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