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Playing online games could be just the thing to keep older people mentally sharp


Anyone who grew up in the latter decades of the 20th century will remember the debates over the potential dangers of video games. The older generations sounded dire warnings of the harm that staring at a screen would do to their offspring in terms of mental and physical development, and were constantly seeking to limit screen time and send the kids out into the fresh air.

Here we are 30 or so years later, and suddenly the boot is on the other foot. The average gamer is 35 years old, meaning those who were jumping through hoops as Sonic the Hedgehog back in the early 90s have never fallen out of love with gaming.

That, however, is only half the story. As gaming has come out of the darkened teenage bedroom and onto the plasma screen and smartphone, so those concerned parents of the 80s and 90s have been forced to reassess their opinions. Playing Sonic didn't rot our brains after all, and with more adults gaming than ever, so the choice of games has become richer. After all those years, the senior generation is even starting to get in on the gaming phenomenon too.

What games are suitable for seniors?

Much as we love retro, most mature gamers will agree that arcade-style games cannot quite hold the attention the way they used to. However, there are more games than ever available that are aimed at mature, sophisticated tastes. The online casino scene is bursting with both familiar and new providers. Whether you want to play poker, baccarat or maybe explore hundreds of slotgames, there are literally dozens of platforms on which to do so.

If your aging mother or father is not the James Bond type, there are numerous other games that appeal to the older generation. Word searches, crosswords and games like Sudoku are great for keeping the mind active, and have been popular with older people for years. Today, with thousands of online games and apps of this type, there is no need to wait for the daily newspaper or buy a quiz book. But that is only half the story.

The social side of gaming

For many, the social media age has led to us being able to keep in touch with friends and family far more easily than in years gone by. However, loneliness among seniors is at an all time high. The effects can be devastating in terms of mental and physical wellbeing, with loneliness linked to depression, heart disease, anxiety and even early death.

Games like Words With Friends do more than help keep the older mind active. They provide a way for seniors to interact with others, whether it is lifelong friends who live far away or children and grandchildren.

If you are concerned that you don't get to spend enough time with your parents or elderly relatives, perhaps it is time to switch the boot to the other foot, and start telling them about the mental and physical health implications of gaming!

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Jun 19, 2019 02:48 PM EDT

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