by: John R. Sharpe
You may be concerned about how your elderly relatives can keep fit and alert. One aid that is being talked about a great deal is the Nintendo Wii, which although primarily aimed at younger families is proving to be beneficial to more senior members of the family. In particular Wii Fit is coming under scrutiny. So, does Wii Fit work for seniors?
Firstly consider the challenges faced by our senior citizens
- During retirement many folks get less stimulation. Often brains that have been active have less to challenge them.
- There is less need to incorporate physical activity into everyday life
- Sometimes maintaining social contact can be a challenge
- The elderly can lose flexibility
But all these can be tackled if there is appropriate mental and physical stimulation. I have known elderly people in their 90's who are still mentally alert and fully mobile. You may have seen film of yoga experts performing feats of agility that would be beyond many people half their age.
The key is regular, appropriate stimulation, and this is where the Wii may help.
Some of the most common injuries for elderly people come after falls. For many seniors balance becomes a problem as they move into their seventies. Research being carried out in Aberdeen University has shown the Wii to be really beneficial. One of the researchers commented that the wii carries out a very similar function to more expensive medical equipment. Since the Wii Fit comes with a balance board your elderly relatives will get feedback that will help them to improve balance and avoid falls.
The Wii Fit encourages the user to stretch and move joints that could otherwise become stiff. Because it has been designed as a game the participants will receive stimulation that will encourage them to continue and to return for more each day. There are also real social benefits. My parents have regular Wii parties where they and their friends make far more noise than a house full of teens.
The Nintendo Wii may have been developed as a games console but its benefits for more senior members of our community are clear. If you are looking for a way to encourage elderly family members to move and stretch, if you want to provide more mental stimulation, if you want to encourage social interaction you could do far worse than to look at the Wii console.