The Brain Game: How Interactive Gaming Keeps Seniors Healthy

The Brain Game: How Interactive Gaming Keeps Seniors Healthy

What the Heck is Interactive Gaming?

For those of us who came of age long before the Internet, the whole concept of interactive video games can be a little confusing. That said, more and more residents in senior living communities are enjoying the benefits of interactive gaming. Big brands like Microsoft and Nintendo, makers of the consoles the XBOX One and Wii U respectively, offer video games that are simple to operate and play, and provide seniors with a fun way to exercise and socialize.

Instead of pushing buttons or using a joystick, seniors interact with the game as it appears on screen using physical gestures. With XBOX One add-ons like the Kinect, you can command your system with your voice and gestures, play games without the hindrance of a controller and even make Skype calls to loved ones without having to dial a number.

The game Kinect Sports Rivals allows players to bowl, jet ski race, rock climb, play soccer, shoot clay targets and play tennis all from the comfort of the indoors. Instead of renting a pair of uncomfortable shoes and trying to lift a 10-16 pound bowling ball, seniors bowl with an invisible (or “virtual”) ball, stepping forward and swinging their arms just like they would in a real-life bowling alley. The interactive system is able to read and respond to the motions of each individual player and represent those motions on a screen.

For senior citizens, regular physical activity isn’t all just fun and games, although having fun is certainly important. But for physical activity to be truly beneficial for the elderly, the activity itself must be designed to engage, but not injure, a senior’s physique. While bingo and shuffleboard remain popular, interactive games like Kinect Sports Rivals and Wii U Sports prove to be just as fun, if not more beneficial, to the overall health of seniors.

Physical and Mental Benefits of Interactive Gaming

In recent years, studies have found that interactive gaming helps fight memory loss and improve balance and muscle coordination. Interactive games, like Wii bowling, stimulate and engage the brain and its changing cell structures, which in turn improves cognitive functions, including the ability to focus and remember. Daily habits and activities have a profound impact on the health of the brain, regardless of an individual’s age. Interactive games allow seniors to exercise that all-important grey matter muscle.

Interactive games also provide a physical workout, since they mimic and respond to the body movements each activity requires (such as swinging your arm for bowling or tennis). However, with interactive games, the activity is less stressful on the body. Seniors get to stretch their muscles without the risk of accidents or injuries.


(Photo courtesy of Legacy at Crystal Falls)

Falls are a concern for the aging; approximately one third of seniors age 65 or older will fall at least once in a year, with over 40 percent of those incidents causing serious injury or death. The physical movement required to play interactive games helps to improve balance and reflexes in seniors. Since the health of the brain directly correlates to an individual’s ability to walk upright and remain balanced, interactive games serve another important purpose in how they keep the mind active and concentrated. There are also interactive games that specifically address and help improve the balance of the player through balance and strength training, yoga and aerobics.

PinPoint Commercial Senior Housing Projects

Now a part of PinPoint Commercial, PinPoint Senior Living is developing senior living and memory care communities like you’ve never seen before. Our communities are located across Texas, and four are in progress in Lubbock, El Paso, Santa Fe and Amarillo. We also have communities located in Georgia, Florida, and New Mexico. Each community utilizes innovative building design and technology to help residents enjoy connected, active and purposeful lives. To see for yourself, contact us for a tour of one of our communities.