Seniors: Gaming’s Next Generation?


If you think video games are just for kids, you may want to rethink that notion after meeting some of our residents at Redwood Terrace and Redwood Town Court. Every week they’re racking up strikes, spares and new relationships over a friendly game of Nintendo Wii bowling.

The Redwoods are among several communities that have added weekly matchups for residents on the Wii gaming system. It’s introducing a new generation of gamers to an opportunity to have fun with friends while getting in a little exercise.

Redwood Terrace resident Ellen Gifford, a former league bowler from Ohio, says she can feel the burn while playing. “I go through the whole action of bowling,” she says.

Researchers at Elon University in North Carolina conducted a study in 2010 that showed that seniors playing exergames like Wii Fit saw a significant improvement in balance and strength. And their so-called “avatar”—the character that represents a player in gaming—became younger as well as they progressed, much more so than young adults tested in the study. While seniors saw their performance age improve by an average of eight years, young adults only dropped a year.

“The Wii is an absolutely wonderful tool,” says Redwood Terrace Activities Director Miriam Secades. “There’s no strength required. It’s a way for residents to be interactive, move, and cheer each other on.”

Another benefit is mental. In a separate 2008 study from the University of Illinois, adults between the ages of 60 and 70 saw a boost in cognitive abilities from playing intricate video games.

Keeping fit, developing relationships and having fun are at the heart of the activities programs at both communities. Many of the residents are so enthusiastic about Wii bowling that a friendly competition is being planned between the two communities.


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