3 Brilliant Reasons Senior Citizens Should Play Video Games

Carnellia AjasinThe 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[1] 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.

[1] Video Games May Help Seniors Stay Healthier

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.

You Might Also Like

19 Comments

  • Reply
    Josselyne
    May 13, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    That is so interesting. I never thought about that like this. I will be sure to have some kind of game when I am much older. In the mean time, I hope a game on my electronic device will do. 🙂

    • Reply
      Carnellia Ajasin
      May 13, 2015 at 12:50 PM

      Josselyne, It’s that something! Lol! I’m sure a game on your device will do just fine. Glad to hear your enjoyed the article.

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      May 14, 2015 at 12:08 AM

      LOL I’m sure a game on any electronic device might be beneficial. But it definitely is interesting though.

  • Reply
    Olivia
    May 13, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    This is a great article…funny enough I actually play video games myself and have played since I was a young girl LOL. It’s something most people don’t understand but I love it! I will probably be an older lady playing video games and your article makes me feel good about that! I can argue it is good for my health 😉
    Olivia would like you to check out…5 Steps to Starting a Business for BeginnersMy Profile

    • Reply
      Carnellia Ajasin
      May 13, 2015 at 12:55 PM

      Olivia, lol I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the article! Based on the research data playing engaging games is good for our brains. Your right, its good for your health. For those who don’t understand now you can provide hard evidence of its benefits.
      Carnellia Ajasin would like you to check out…Hello world!My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      May 14, 2015 at 12:07 AM

      haha Yes, girl, save this article and use it for later! 😉

  • Reply
    Nancy Laws
    May 13, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    So Interesting!! I must say, I have never considered the benefits of video games for the elderly, this is so informative, although I am still not a fan for my son or hubby for that matter…

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      May 14, 2015 at 12:06 AM

      LOL Just make sure to point out that these are stats for the elderly, should they ever come across this article and try to argue 😉

  • Reply
    Nadeen
    May 13, 2015 at 7:56 PM

    This is definitely news to me but it all makes sense! So glad her Aunt is in remission!
    Nadeen would like you to check out…The California Wine Club: Membership has it’s privileges.My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      May 14, 2015 at 12:05 AM

      It was definitely news to me too Nadeen! And I’m glad too 🙂

    • Reply
      Carnellia Ajasin
      May 14, 2015 at 8:51 PM

      Hello Nadeen! Yes we are so glad Aunt Bertha is in remission. Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Reply
    Julian (@BoldFearless1)
    May 14, 2015 at 9:03 PM

    Wow! Who would have thought? I guess I better go dust off the Wii and get to gaming! Will have to share this with the peeps 😉

    • Reply
      Christine St.Vil
      May 15, 2015 at 12:32 AM

      Ha! Yup, I meant to send this to over to mom and dad; gotta keep ’em young and sharp 🙂

    • Reply
      Carnellia Ajasin
      May 18, 2015 at 9:40 AM

      What will be really interesting is to observe which types of games they are drawn most to. I I enjoyed writing the article.
      Carnellia Ajasin would like you to check out…Hello world!My Profile

  • Reply
    Vashti (veepeejay.com)
    May 17, 2015 at 9:17 PM

    This makes a lot of sense! Prior to her passing a few months ago, my grandma regularly used a cell phone to make calls etc. She was not afraid of technology and she definitely had a few games on her phone. To the end, her mental sharpness and memory was amazing.
    Vashti (veepeejay.com) would like you to check out…Curly Kids Coloring Book by Curl Centric #BeCurlCentricMy Profile

    • Reply
      Carnellia Ajasin
      May 18, 2015 at 9:45 AM

      Vashti, I think that is the point, right? As we age and things change (technology and our digital lives). Embrace change and not be afraid of technology like your grandmother. Glad you enjoyed the article.
      Carnellia Ajasin would like you to check out…Hello world!My Profile

  • Reply
    Michellette "MimiCuteLips" Green
    May 18, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    I’ve always heard that its great to keep the mind sharp as you age. That is a fun creative way to keep the mind engagement.
    Michellette “MimiCuteLips” Green would like you to check out…Fun in the ATLMy Profile

    • Reply
      Carnellia Ajasin
      May 18, 2015 at 9:41 AM

      Yes, Michellette tell every elderly person you know! Glad you enjoyed the article.
      Carnellia Ajasin would like you to check out…Hello world!My Profile

  • Reply
    Nicole
    May 24, 2015 at 10:51 AM

    This is Great stuff! My mom just retired in January and we were just talking last night about her needing to keep her mind occupied. I’m totally going to suggest getting a video game system.

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge