Video game technology is proving to be a valuable tool for helping people of all ages improve lifestyle and health habits and manage disease.
New research is showing that exergames have significant benefits for older adults by providing cognitive stimulation and a source of social interaction, exercise, and fun. Thus, the games help them to lead fuller, more independent lives for a longer time, according to two articles in Games for Health Journal, a new bimonthly peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The articles are available free on the Games for Health Journal website.
An escape from routine
"The elderly often forsake their lifelong activities in exchange for the safety, security, and care of institutional living," says Editor-in-Chief Bill Ferguson, PhD. "This trade-off need not require the sacrifice of physical activity and fitness. Furthermore, video games offer an escape from routine. All of these benefits can improve the well-being of elderly adults."
Digital games offer a home-based method to support behaviour modification, motivating patients to take better care of themselves and to self-mange chronic conditions. Recommendations for how to use and integrate video game technology in the rehabilitation and training of older adults are presented in the review article "Interactive Videogame Technologies to Support Independence in the Elderly."
Videogames offer a good alternative to traditional forms of aerobic exercise, according to the authors, Hannah Marston, PhD, German Sport University Cologne, Germany, and Stuart Smith, PhD, Neuroscience Research, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.
The benefits of video games
Another article in the issue describes a study performed in three European countries that defined and compared the specific features of videogames that would most interest older adults.
Unai Diaz-Orueta, PhD, Matia Gerontological Institute Foundation-INGEMA (Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain), and colleagues from Spain, The Netherlands, and Greece identified several main factors that motivate interest in gaming: the social aspect of the experience; the challenge it presents; the combination of cognitive and physical activity; and the ability to gain specific skills as a result of gaming. They present their findings in the article entitled "What is the Key for Older People to Show Interest in Playing Digital Learning Games? Initial Qualitative Findings from the LEAGE Project on a Multicultural European Sample."
(EurekAlert, April 2012)
The appeal of video games