Assisted Living Residents Stay Active with the Wii Video Game

In front of a crowded conference room full of senior care professionals Debbi Cavallo, MBA, corporate director of dementia care for San Diego-based Senior Resource Group Senior Living (SRG), entertained the audience with a demonstration of the Nintendo Wii video game system as an activity alternative for residents living in assisted living and residential care communities. Debbi demonstrated how the interactive game can be used to encourage physical activity and maintain important functions like balance at our Southern California Dementia Care Intensive earlier this year. But while Cavallo brought the game to our attention, researchers have also been looking closely at the use of the Wii in senior care.

Researchers, like Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging has said the Wii can help seniors by improving hand-eye coordination and even memory abilities.

For those that may be unfamiliar with it, the Wii is very different from traditional video game systems in how players interact with the games. Rather then pressing buttons or moving a joystick, users actually move the arms and body to create actions in the games. So, for example, when playing a tennis game on the Wii, players actually swing the arm while holding a controller–in much the same way you would a tennis racket–to cause their video game character to swing at the ball. The experience is often more intuitive than traditional video games, and is certainly a more physically active experience.

San Bernardino County, in fact, is purchasing 35 Wii units for use at the county’s senior centers. Click here to read a full article on how San Bernardino seniors are using the Wii for Wii tournaments at local senior centers.

If you are looking to add a new spark to your activity program considering looking to the Wii for a fun and different way to engage your residents in physical activity. Of course, as with any physical activity, follow necessary safety precautions and confirm with your residents’ physician that they are able to participate in physical activity.

Have your residents been using the Wii? Tell us about it by clicking the “Add Comment” button below.

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