In a recent study, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have found that a driving video game called “Neuroracer” can improve memory and attention among older players. In “Neuroracer”, players drive a car along a winding road while keeping an eye out for road signs that occasionally pop into view. A preliminary study of the game showed just how badly age wears down our ability to switch attention: people in their 20s were 26% worse at choosing the right signs when they had to drive at the same time, while people in their 60s and 80s were 64% worse. With practice though, the elderly players got a lot better, and this improvement carried over to other mental activities. Elderly players’ memory and attention improved, including mental powers that were not directly targeted by the game. The findings suggest that the brain can continue to change late into life, and that properly designed games could help counteract some of the mental decline that comes with age. Please note that there is no commercial version of Neuroracer and probably never will be, according to the team that created the game, which says it was developed as a research tool and not a consumer product. For some of the video games that are commercially available to help elders, please see our earlier blog post wherein we gave links to several video games for elders.
Other studies have found that video games have also been linked to:
Countering Depression: Another study conducted at the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine showed that the “use of ‘exergames’ (on Wii® and Xbox Kinect® platforms) significantly improved mood and mental health-related quality of life in adults with depression”.
Preventing falls: Researchers at The University of Aberdeen, Scotland and the UK’s National Health Service conducted a four-month study that tracked changes in people over the age of 70 when regularly using Wii Fit® and found that it could improve balance as well as help seniors avoid falls.
Providing exercise: The American College of Sports Medicine conducted a study with 24 participants ranging from 66 to 78 years of age and found that playing certain video games (specifically ‘exergames’ on Wii® and Xbox Kinect® platforms) could burn up to 20-176 calories in a half an hour.
Improving mental health: A University of Florida study indicates that video games can “help senior citizens stay mentally alert.” Seniors have improved mental sharpness and hand-eye coordination when playing video games.
We here at the Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. are pleased to see all of the advances in technology and video games available to help improve seniors quality of life, health, and well-being. Now that you know about the benefits of video games, it is time to plan for your future and for your loved ones. Evan H. Farr is a Certified Elder Law Attorney with a focus on helping protect seniors and their families by preserving dignity, quality of life, and financial security. Call us at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a complimentary consultation.