4 Surprising Benefits of Gaming for Older Adults

Wii Controller

Even if the only game you’ve played before is Bridge, you can become a “gamer” – someone who plays video games or games online. It might feel like kids spend too much time gaming, but it’s a hobby you might want to try. Research has shown that seniors who have embraced gaming live a healthier life.

Here are four benefits of gaming and ways to get started:

  1. Encourages interaction with others
  2. Gaming can be a social activity. Once a week, meet up with friends to play your favorite game. Choose a video game that multiple players can enjoy, or bring your computers along and play your favorite online game or puzzle.

    Research shows that “senior citizens who increase or maintain social interaction have less cognitive and physical limitations.” You not only better your health – you can strengthen friendships, meet people with similar interests and have fun!

    What to play – The New York Times Crosswords: Get social by completing your favorite Sunday crossword puzzle. Choose today’s puzzle or one from a previous week. Compete against other players to get social, show your skills and keep your brain sharp.

  3. Keeps your mind healthy
  4. Video games can keep seniors’ minds sharp. Playing video games improves hand-eye coordination and increases mental sharpness. Researchers also found that after playing online games, seniors had a boost in brain activity similar to younger people.

    And staying sharp isn’t the only benefit – you’ll be happier overall. Seniors who regularly or occasionally game “reported higher levels of well-being, positive mood, social functioning and better self-reported health than non-gamers.”

    What to play – Lumosity: Train your brain and improve your memory with these online games that were developed by neuroscientists.

  5. Keeps your body active
  6. Ever heard of “exergames?” . It’s a combination of exercising and games. Exergames offer many benefits for seniors. One study found that these types of video games improve balance and help avoid falls.

    Additionally, exergames offer activities different from the usual walk on the treadmill or water aerobics. The American College of Sports Medicine found that some senior exergamers can burn up to 176 calories in just 30 minutes.

    What to play – Wii Fit Plus: Bowl, play tennis and more with these exergames from Nintendo. Play individually or against a few friends or family members!

  7. Learn to use the latest technology
  8. Many seniors are embracing younger generational traits. Just look at social networks – according to NPR, “people over the age of 65 are the fastest-growing group on social media.” Senior citizens are using the latest technologies to communicate, game, stream movies and read.

    Consider a tablet – you can download apps that allow you to game wherever you are. And if you’re tech-savvy enough for this, you can teach yourself to stream movies, tv shows and athletic events online, upload pictures to your Facebook account and more. You don’t have to be a millennial to be an expert on the newest technology.

    What to play – Angry Birds: Play one of the most popular mobile apps on your iPad or smartphone. Launch birds to destroy pigs (trust me – it’s much more entertaining than it sounds).

The bottom line? Seniors have tons of options when it comes to keeping their brains fit. Grab a friend and try out a new game today. It’s the first step to a healthier – and more entertaining – life!

Guest Post by Kimberly Barnes

Senior Advisor's knowledgeable writers blog about senior care services, trends and more.


  1. Meghan Thomaston March 6, 2014 Reply

    An excellent way to get youth to volunteer and spend time with our seniors as well. Many teens would welcome the chance to “tutor” their elders in gaming and share their love for technology.

    • Amelia Willson March 10, 2014 Reply

      Meghan, that is a fantastic idea! I wholeheartedly agree. I love seeing stories in the news about local high school or middle school students who visit the local senior communities and get them set up using computers, or using email or social media.

  2. the impossible game October 9, 2017 Reply

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  3. dumb ways to die November 10, 2017 Reply

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  4. Yoshiko Flora May 6, 2019 Reply

    I find it cool when you said that letting seniors play video games can help increase their exposure to other people, thus preventing them from losing cognitive and physical abilities. With that in mind, I will get an Xbox One console for me and my dad to play with starting tomorrow. Doing this will help us spend more time together while he is enjoying his retirement.

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