Two new articles in the Games for Health Journal suggest that video games are valuable tools for helping the elderly stay healthy and maintain a reasonably healthy lifestyle. Researchers find that "exergames," or games that give you a workout while playing, also provide cognitive stimulation and serve as a great way to encourage older folks to be more socially interactive and have fun. This can help in extending the life of older players as well.
“The elderly often forsake their lifelong activities in exchange for the safety, security, and care of institutional living,” said Editor-in-Chief Bill Ferguson, Ph.D. “This trade-off need not require the sacrifice of physical activity and fitness. Furthermore, video games offer an escape from routine. All of these benefits can improve the well-being of elderly adults.”
Experts also say that games offer a home-based method to support behavior modification; in other words games can motivate the elderly to take better care of themselves and to self-mange some chronic conditions. Other areas where games can be helpful, say experts are related to physical, occupational and speech therapy. Many healthcare professionals are taking advantage of new technology to develop home-based rehabilitation and training programs for older adults.
Video games also offer a good alternative to traditional forms of aerobic exercise, according to authors, Hannah Marston, Ph.D., German Sport University Cologne, Germany, and Stuart Smith, Ph.D., Neuroscience Research, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.