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Gaming, for the majority of its existence, has been largely seen as just an indulgent hobby younger generations enjoy. However, video games have evolved over time and are now considered a major part of pop culture. For example, the love of gaming (or, maybe, the love of winning) has led to the creation of esports, which as we know, involves competing in game tournaments for a living. Modern gaming technology is also helping medical students practice performing surgery. What more, and perhaps one of the most interesting developments within the gaming world, is the rise of the senior citizen gamer.
Older generations enjoying gaming have not only created an interesting new dynamic within the gaming world and its culture, but there are actually potential health benefits for those older adults who like to play video games. Some seniors who have discovered their love of gaming are also finding popularity on streaming services such as Twitch.
The Value of Time and Technology For Senior Gamers
One possible reason the gaming industry has seen an uptick in senior games could have to do with the advancements in healthcare technology that has allotted seniors more time in their day. Specifically, as telehealth becomes more popular and accessible, seniors are able to spend more time at home and engaging in hobbies and less time at the doctor’s office.
In fact, Western Governors College reports that telemedicine resulted in, “38% fewer hospital admissions, 31% fewer hospital re-admissions, and 63% of patients spent less time in the hospital.” The beauty of virtual appointments is that they allow seniors to maintain their health while not having to step foot outside their homes. This likely has helped seniors break into the gaming world and devote more time to their new hobby — or multiple hobbies, across the board.
While the world of gaming is constantly growing and changing, there can still be instances of gatekeeping within the community. For example, what does and does not count as a “real” video game is regularly debated on, with mobile phone games often being at the forefront of this argument. For seniors who enjoy gaming though, sometimes a cellphone is the only “console” they have regular access to. Moreover, the art and joy of gaming is about the user’s experience just as much as the games themselves.
Some mobile games, such as Tetris and Candy Crush, can also have other uses. According to those at Healthline, while more testing is still needed, new research suggests that games may help detect the signs of cognitive decline. This is extremely useful as this can help lead to an early diagnosis of dementia, which is critical in treating the disease. Of course, nothing indulgent is completely free from negative effects.
Regularly playing video games can strain your eyes which can then lead to headaches, double or blurred vision, and even cause eyes to sting or burn. For seniors, this can be dangerous as it could cause a fall or worse. Competitive senior gamers also need to keep up with the competition, who are likely to have sharper, clearer vision thanks to their younger age. Luckily, with the help of coverage like Medicare, seniors can continue to keep their health in check and get vision exams as needed, making it easier to continue their love of gaming.
How Gaming Helps Seniors
While gaming is a hobby for most, it can also be a major source of wellness for seniors. Loneliness is actually a huge health risk for seniors. Senior loneliness or senior isolation has been shown to lead to health complications such as high blood pressure, increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and stress. It can also increase bad habits like excessive drinking or smoking. Further, senior isolation has been shown to increase the chances of elder abuse.
Staying connected to others, trying new things, and generally feeling more positive are all important things that can help with an older adults’ health and wellbeing. And luckily, gaming could be the answer to achieving all three of those things. Of course, too much of anything can also be harmful, and this includes video games. It’s equally important for seniors to get regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, and find additional ways to promote wellness as they continue to age.
The evolution of the gaming world is sure to continue surprising us while also becoming more and more accessible to a wider range of players. Arguably one of the most interesting things that the future holds as far as gaming is the lifelong players who will likely continue enjoying video games long into their senior years. What the gaming world will look like then remains a mystery, but as long as the gaming world remains a place for people to escape to, connect with others, and simply enjoy then we can at least look forward to playing video games until the end of time — including seniors.