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Video games may boost social and memory care

February 6, 2014

Video games are no longer just for grandchildren. A number of virtual experiences targeted toward older adults provide a variety of health benefits that can help lead to a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Popular gaming platforms, such as the Wii, allow users to stand up while gaming, making individuals exercise while they engage in challenges that require problem solving skills and critical thinking. By improving a person's joint health in addition to their mental and social health, these digital gaming platforms offer a range of benefits for seniors.

Systems contribute to social activities
Independent living communities that allow seniors to engage with these interactive games provide a social opportunity for residents. According to the Chicago Tribune, more than 60 percent of seniors reported regular or occasional video game use, as reported in a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. Older adults have the opportunity to play games that are focused on keeping the brain sharp, such as those focused on problem solving, or others aimed at bolstering physical activity, including sports or dancing games. These games call for several participants, meaning seniors can invite friends to play a quick round of virtual tennis or participate in a digital yoga session. 

NeuroRacer boosts mental skills 
There currently exist several video games specifically catered toward enhancing mental capabilities, one of which is called NeuroRacer. This computer game focuses on allowing seniors to practice their multitasking skills as they must both drive a car using game controls while keeping an eye out for specific signs along the road. According to a study conducted by Gazzaley Lab and published in Nature magazine, older adults who played the video game had significantly improved multitasking scores than younger participants. Scientists concluded that this game had the potential to assist older adults as a tool to enhance brain activity.