Video games aren’t just for kids.  And, they aren’t all shoot ’em up anymore either.  To the contrary, many older adults are finding great benefit and pleasure through Wii games.

For those unfamiliar, Wii (pronounced “we”) is a gaming console that you can get for around $250 and easily connect to your television.  The wireless controllers are easy to use and even come equipped with rubber grips and wrist straps to avoid slinging them across the room.

There are several reasons why particular Wii games can be of benefit with older adults.  Unlike the types of games where you simply push buttons to shoot and move, these games engage the user in a physically active manner.  Most games can easily accommodate multiple players, so there is the added bonus of social activity and mental stimulation.

There are a few games that can be of particular benefit with older adults, physically, cognitively and socially.

Wii Fit Plus can help older adults maintain fitness and balance.  Some nursing homes have found that even those in wheelchairs can exercise and realize terrific therapeutic results.

Wii Sports has the very popular bowling game included.  This activity is becoming a mainstay in many assisted living facilities with some even forming bowling leagues.  Again, even if a person is in a wheelchair, it can be comfortably enjoyed.

Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree.  Mental stimulation has been connected to a lower risk of contracting Alzheimer’s later in life.  The Alzheimer’s Association promotes playing games as a good way of keeping your brain active, and the AARP specifically recommends Big Brain Academy “to keep your mind sharp.”  This game is designed as a virtual college which offers a series of puzzles and math problems for players to solve.  The game is easy to play and allows up to eight people to participate at the same time.

So, when you think of video games it doesn’t have to conjure thoughts of junior high school kids playing shoot ’em up instead of playing outside anymore.  Instead, think of these games as meaningful activities to engage older adults or aging parents in a fun and dynamic manner.

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