Video games are generally associated with younger people, but statistics show over 20% of gamers are over the age of 50. While many people may consider gaming a mindless pastime, aging adults actually reap significant benefits as they play.
Research shows that cognitive and emotional health is just as important to healthy aging as maintaining physical health. By challenging the mind, providing socialization, and improving emotional health for aging adults, video games might be just the key to healthy aging.
Improved Cognitive Ability
While there are a variety of games aimed to improve memory and concentration, video games are often overlooked. In actuality, playing video games is a great option for mental improvement. Research suggests strategy-based games can improve planning and skillful thinking.
In particular, the gray matter in the hippocampus increases with play. The hippocampus is the region of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory, both of which impact long-term cognitive health.
Additionally, the complex controls and fast pace of the game can provide a mental workout for older adults. Switching between different tasks can improve mental flexibility and multitasking for players.
Lowered Risk Of Dementia
Why should adults be concerned with their cognitive health? Research shows that cognitive stimulation may delay or slow the onset of degenerative neurological diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Gaming can increase tissue growth in the brain and possibly slow the progression of memory loss. Additionally, playing video games exercises the gamer’s memory. All of this is great news for aging adults and the large population of dementia patients.
Besides the cognitive benefits of gaming, video games provide social opportunities for older adults. In fact, 1 out of every 3 gamers has met a close friend while gaming. Further, 34% of gamers say that building a relationship is their favorite part of playing.
The socialization aspect of video games is especially great for an older population who may otherwise be isolated. Older adults can meet new friends via gaming or bond with current friends and younger relatives. Playing video games with grandchildren can provide a unique bonding experience while also improving players’ minds.
Provides Sense Of Purpose
Older adults become more vulnerable to depression and anxiety as they age. However, having a sense of purpose can improve emotional health. Playing video games can provide older adults with an attainable goal and help them find moments of success and joy.
Additionally, doing anything you enjoy improves emotional health, so allowing seniors to play video games can boost their mood. In fact, research shows that gamers over the age of 63 reported greater well-being, social function, and overall health as compared to non-gamers.
Video Games – Fun And Beneficial At All Ages
Video games are no longer just for teenage boys. Instead, consider gaming at any age, particularly over 65, to improve cognitive ability and mental health. Video games provide a sense of purpose, social opportunities, and brain stimulation. These effects can benefit aging adults and possibly even slow the progression of dementia. Find a game you enjoy today to start reaping the benefits!
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