|The following post was written by Carnella Ajasin. Carnella is a technology strategist, philanthropist, CEO and founder of Mind Katalyst, an interactive technology enabled learning firm that works with fortune 500 companies in healthcare, business, education, and government sectors. When she’s not innovating, she enjoys writing and speaking about the global impacts of technology and innovation. Connect with Carnella on Twitter, Facebook or by going to www.mindkatalyst.com.|
Three years ago my 70+ year old great aunt Bertha started chemo-therapy for breast cancer. While in the hospital I introduced her to the game Re-MISSION, an online cancer fighting video game. I thought it might help divert her thoughts and quite possibly provide her with a sense of empowerment. Last fall, I took my family to visit aunt Bertha who is now thankfully in remission from breast cancer. She greeted each of us with warm kisses and prolonged, rocking hugs. As we removed our jackets, shoes and moved to the den, I noticed a paused Bayonetta game on her smart TV. I got a little amused and thought, “wow is she still playing video games?” I thought by now surely she’d be finished with all this video game playing. My young son’s eyes also fell on the game and he immediately jumped at the opportunity to ask Aunt Bertha’s permission to play.
I noticed a sly smile cross my aunt’s face. Sheepishly, Aunt Bertha announced that she was in the middle of a game, but could restart the game if the two of them could play together. She went on to tell me that although she enjoyed playing Re-MISSION she was enjoying Re-MISSION 2 even more. My son enthusiastically retrieved the nunchucku. I was amazed at the comfort and skill level at which aunt Bertha played. Later, she proudly showed us her vast collection of other game brands. She’d downloaded and tried quite a few, but her personal favorites remained the Re-MISSION, Grand Theft Auto series and Bayonetta.
My husband and I felt impressed with this petite unassuming, elderly lady’s game library. I’ve heard family rumors about her video game addiction but now, I was seeing the actual proof. Aunt Bertha told us she often stays up way past her bedtime completely over come and engaged in a game only to over sleep the following day. Unapologetically, she admitted that there are times, she’s missed phone calls, package deliveries and has shown up late or not at all for family gatherings for the sake of a video game!
Hearing her go on about her gaming stories was hilarious. My husband asked what drew her to gaming to this extent and without hesitation she quickly responsed, “they relax me completely, keeps my mind sharp and make me feel less lonesome.” I’ve conducted a bit of research on gaming and seniors recently and found that numerous sociological studies suggest the following, and why senior citizens should play video games:
1. Senior citizens who are into gaming enjoy better mental health than their contemporaries.
It’s not surprising that any physical activity that requires a high level of hand-eye coordination could stimulate our brains in a positive way, regardless of the our age.
Other studies indicate that playing video games jog up memory and lengthen our attention span.
2. Elderly gamers get better at multitasking.
In one such study, investigators compared brain wave patterns of older and younger subjects, and discovered that over time, the elders’ pattern begins to resemble that of youngers’ patterns. In yet another study conducted at North Carolina State University, researchers found that
3. Elderly gamers reported better emotional health than their non-gaming counterparts.
I certainly don’t like the fact that Aunt Bertha doesn’t always take my call when I’m checking up on her. I usually have to get my cousin who lives close by to stop by her house to provide me with an update. However, I am happy to know that she’s found something to engage herself with that is entertaining and mentally stimulating.
Check out this short video of one of my Aunt Bertha’s favorite games, Re-Mission 2:
Do you know of senior citizens who are closet or open gamers like my Aunt Bertha? What impact did you observe in their behavior? We’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.