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Posted on July 13, 2015 by Christine Crosby in elderly, exercise, games, grandmother, video games

Games Can Help Rejuvenate The Elderly

Many people have the belief that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. For years we’ve been operating under the conclusion that as we get older, our cognitive function will start to erode. With the advent of technology however, we’re starting to turn the tide on being able to eliminate age related degenerative disease of the brain. It turns out, in order to help the elderly, we have to turn to the young and play video games.

Scientists and game developers have teamed up in order to develop games with the intention of rejuvenating elderly brains. Building on research that has shown that distractions become more problematic with age, games were developed that targeted the user’s multitasking skill. The real question became, how much of a lasting impact would playing the games have on the elderly’s cognitive function once they walked away from the game. Early research showed that while playing video games, people could improve their memory and reaction time, but it wasn’t initially clear whether this had an impact for them afterwards.

A study was done at the University of California, San Francisco that found playing a brain training game for a month can rejuvenate cognitive function in the brains of the elderly. Their multitasking ability, ability to recall information, and ability to stay focused were all returned to a 20-year-old level.

The study included playing a video game that required participants to perform two tasks at the same time. The participants initially played the game in the lab to gather baseline readings on their brains. They were then given laptops with the game on it to continue playing at home. The incredible improvement in cognitive ability with the participants gave promise to rejuvenating the brains of the elderly through video games.

One of the theories on why elderly brains start to degenerate is that the elderly start taking on conservative patterns of taking risk and looking at information. They haven’t lost the ability to act quickly per se, but just lack the ability to make that decision. Video games help because they force people to perform less conservatively.

GamesAlthough studies weren’t performed on various other games, it stands to reason that an increase in complexity and difficulty level will only make the results that much better. This opens opportunities for companies to offer games to play to enhance cognitive function.

The beautiful thing about using video games to rejuvenate the elderly is that is as simple as sitting down in front of a game and playing for a while. The ability for someone to keep their brain sharp is there for everyone. Just like exercising the body however, most people don’t do a good job of doing it. Using the medium of video games gets past this because it hacks the reward system of the brain and makes you forget that you are exercising in the first place.

Seeing someone go down the path of mental degradation is a tough thing to see. I’ve seen it many times with some of my older co-workers and grandparents. My grandmother in particular was a really tough case because she couldn’t remember my name and would call me “lil guy”.  The last thing people want to hear is that they are a little slower with their memory recall. Because of this they may become a little resistant to trying anything or even admitting there’s a problem in the first place. This is why it’s critical to start training the brain early when signs first start showing up.

Introducing the idea of playing video games may be a foreign concept to some elderly folks, but once they get started the ball just keeps on rolling. Before soon, they won’t want to stop playing video games and will have a mind as sharp as it was in their youth. The transition is night and day and I implore you to get your relatives or friends who are having some troubles started on playing games right away.

The more time spent playing, the greater the results will be. If you’re finding that the game is becoming a bit too stale, move on to another game and start over again. The important thing is to just have time in-game and to get your mental exercise while still having fun. Lucky Admiral is great for this because it provides a variety of games that stimulate the mind and allow you to live a fulfilling life well into your old age.

Playing games have numerous benefits for the elderly and the young. Set aside at least an hour a day and start achieving great results today!







Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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