While video games have been around since the 80s and you usually associate them with children and young adults, it may come as no surprise to you that video games can be just as beneficial for people over the age of 60 as they are for those eight and below. Video games are a delightful pastime and can be incredibly immersive. This can make them a perfect hobby for seniors who want to strengthen their working memory and keep their cognitive skills sharp. While video games can be a point of contention for younger audiences due to the overstimulation of young minds, this exact neurological effect can be beneficial for seniors who require stimulation in order to upkeep their cognitive function.
Mental Health and Seniors
Seniors are often at risk for mental and emotional decline as they age. This can be a result of the weakening of the brain which leads to cognitive decline as well as the social impact of retirement and isolation. From a brain function perspective, video games and strategy stimulation can be very effective for maintaining cognitive function. Truly any hobby that requires thinking and concentration can strengthen neurological pathways and improve their function. While seniors may be stereotyped as often going to things like knitting, crocheting, and other low-impact crafts – video games are far more stimulating and often require deep concentration and problem-solving in order to be successful. This means that strategy games, whether that is online chess, a scrabble app, or an open-world RPG game, can all encourage focus, concentration, and critical thinking skills. The brain is like a muscle, and just like a muscle the more you practice and use that function, the stronger that skill will be. Video games can be a great way to practice concentration and working memory as they are built to be engaging and give constant positive reinforcement for playing. Other hobbies, like crafts, may not be as rewarding short term because they require long-term dedication. This means that in terms of entertainment and authentic motivation, video games have beat out many other hobbies in terms of reoccurring engagement.
Emotional Health and Seniors
Another aspect of gaming that often people do not realize is a function for many video games is that of playing with a community. Many games nowadays are built to be multiplayer or played in an open world over the Internet where people of all walks of life can get together and enjoy the same game. This means that some games will be an excellent place to foster a new relationship and connection across many different ages and cultures. Or if you prefer to just play with your friends, you can invite them to play with you and even call them on the phone so that way you can chat while playing the game. Online gaming as a way to socialize with friends is very common nowadays with young people and even more so after the quarantine where people had to find alternative ways to socialize. The quarantine was very challenging for seniors who are more likely to suffer from the ill effects of isolation. Online gaming and socializing could be a great way to maintain long-distance relationships and meet new people who all share the same interests as you in a specific game. It is also physically accessible, as many seniors struggle with physical disabilities, which makes it difficult to go and meet new people and new communities. Therefore, online gaming is a way for them to meet virtually while also being accommodated in a place where they are comfortable. Humans are naturally social creatures and seniors are especially affected by loneliness and being isolated within their home due to disabilities. So any hobby, whether it is a low-impact sport, a knitting club, or online gaming which can help bridge the gap between them and other people, can be a great way to boost morale and increase their mental health. Socializing can decrease the chances of anxiety and depression and increase the chances of making new friends.
Another benefit of video games is that there really is a niche game for everyone. A little bit of research can go a long way in finding the right video game for you. If you prefer more strategy games like chess or checkers then their online versions are played the same but allow you to play with anyone in the world. If you enjoy grand adventures and fantasy settings there are many games that allow you to be a seasoned warrior on a quest. If you prefer fun games to play on your phone there are often little strategy games that you can download for free or for a small price off of your own App Store which helps with keeping up your cognitive function on the go. Or if you prefer physical console games to play at home you can always purchase a console game system with controllers that are handheld and lightweight which is easy for seniors to manipulate.
Video games as a topic are as broad as literature at this point. There are so many different genres and styles that there really is something for everyone. Finding the right game style for you may require a little research on your part however it will be well worth it as you will have hours of entertainment and engagement which will help build your cognitive function and increase your exposure to socialization.
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