Video Games Can Boost Memory and Fight Dementia

by | Health & Wellbeing

One can never be too old to pursue a new hobby. As a matter of fact, Age UKs 2011 study revealed how many adults over the age of 60 take up new hobbies and activities every year. It’s their way of revelling in freedom, and who can blame them?

When it comes to hobby ideas, as the 50Plus Coach I have many ideas, including quirky activities such as singing karaoke, rescuing animals, and re-enacting battles. I’ve been reminded of the need to include video games.

It may seem like a complicated activity to get into, but we can never be too old to find a lot of enjoyment in video games. Just watch a few episodes of Netflix’s Dad of Light and you will observe how the protagonists father becomes obsessed with a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).

In reality, research from North Carolina State University found that older adults who play video games are happier while non-playing adults displayed more negative emotions.

Before video games came about, it was board games like Sudoku and Chess that kept the mind mentally sharp. Back in the day, these simple games were a form of therapy for old people. These board games have not become totally outdated; they were just transformed into digital versions.

The advent of online games means that we can now reminisce about our favourite board games and play them through innovative gaming portals. Amongst leading slot site Slingo’s gaming roster lies classic titles that have similar mechanics to Monopoly or Checkers but with thematic twists. So why should you go for the digital versions? Well, the edge video games have is that they are highly customisable and engaging.

With the nature of video games stretching your cognitive functions further than board games ever could, they can actually be used to improve memory.

Citing information from an article by The Daily Beast, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco let participants play a video game called NeuroRacer, which required multitasking. It was found that that the older participants, aged 60 and above, performed better with practice than 20+ year old adults playing for the first time. This meant that through the video games conditioning, the memory and attention of the older adults significantly improved.

It is well known that age is a significant factor when it comes to memory loss. When your grandfather forgets about something, he said 10 minutes ago, you might refer to it as a senior moment. Common recommendations to combat memory lapses include eating healthy food and getting enough rest. With video games now in the mix, there’s a better chance for older adults to retain sharp brain functions.

Lastly, researchers have claimed video games can also delay symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The Telegraph discussed a University of Cambridge study that examined participants with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a precursor of dementia). After playing a particular video game for a month, tests showed that the participants episodic memory improved by 40%.

With all this research, playing video games doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all. If you’re looking for a new activity, it may be time to pick up a controller and start playing.

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Denise Taylor

Chief Inspiration Officer, The 50 Plus Coach.