two seniors happily play video games in their senior living facility

The Benefits of Playing Video Games as You Age

As children, we were curious about everything, always asking, “Why?” We welcomed new challenges, taking them on with a fierce bravery. As we age, we settle into our roles in life: wage earner, parent, spouse, etc., and we find comfort in the familiarity of the same tasks. But it’s important for our health to resist complacency. To keep the mind sharp and the brain active, we have to be lifelong learners, seeking out new challenges when things become stagnant. That’s where video games can be incredibly valuable tools. The benefits of playing video games include keeping people, especially seniors, keen and sharp witted.

Seniors Playing Video Games?

That’s right. In fact, a 2019 study by AARP found that 44% of Americans ages 50+ enjoy video games at least once a month. That statistic is up 6% from the last time the study was conducted in 2016. Video games are on the rise, and women are the leading demographic in the study, playing more often than men. So what’s the draw? Video games for seniors have a number of mental benefits that can translate into physical habits. Plus, they’re just downright fun and entertaining.

The Benefits of Playing Video Games

  1. Cognitive Improvement. New, unfamiliar games have the most benefits for your brain, because they challenge your mind to form new pathways. Games that require focus, memorization and recognition train your brain to better those skills. The cognitive benefits of video games can combat memory disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s by working against deterioration of the brain. And since video games improve your reaction time, senior gamers are more likely to react better to a fall.
  2. Social Engagement. When multiplayer video games are played in person, many people find enjoyment in being able to play the game while discussing it and participating in some healthy and friendly competition. Multiplayer games can also be played online, where you also have the option of speaking with your opponent.
  3. Increase in Coordination. Games that require you to use a physical controller are said to improve hand-eye coordination. Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, or Wii Sports and other Wii games, involve your entire body, which increases coordination. This is especially helpful to seniors who may struggle with balance or have experienced any loss in mobility.
  4. Stress Reduction. One of the underlying health benefits of video games is the stress relief they inevitably provide by allowing you to take your mind off anything outside the game. Fortunately, playing video games isn’t a bad way to zone out of life’s stressors, unlike other mindless activities like watching TV can be. Playing video games can be both stress relieving and productive.
  5. Fun! Don’t forget, at the end of the day, it’s just a game, meant to provide fun and entertainment. Video games for seniors can be a fun and relaxing way to wind down and return to the childlike curiosity of discovering, exploring and learning.

The Best Video Games for Seniors

If we’ve got you convinced that trying out video games is worth a shot, we’ve got some recommendations for where and how to get started:

  • Rise of Nations is a complex strategy game that can improve memory and enhance cognitive skills.
  • Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Wii Sports are more physically involved, requiring focus as well as coordination.
  • World of Warcraft is a fun story-mode game that allows you to create a persona, play online with friends, and get in touch with your medieval side.
  • Words with Friends is like modern-day Scrabble.
  • Monopoly and chess have online versions, too.

We take video games seriously here at The Heritage at Brentwood! Every Saturday there are Wii Bowling practices and tournaments. There are more than 90 clubs at The Heritage, and with such a variety of hobbyists, residents are bound to find your fellow gamers here. Contact us and ask for a sample activity calendar to see what you could get involved in.