A psychology professor’s research reports that 60% of seniors play video games at least occasionally.
The N.C. State University teacher’s findings about the wide use of video games among seniors will likely lead more assisted living communities to include them in their offerings. The seniors recruited for the study came from senior centers, senior living centers and religious centers.
The paper is available for sale online. Without paying for it, that figure sounds way high.
Of course the type of games they play (Solitaire, Sudoku, Crossword puzzles) would hardly be recognizable to young gamers.
This PDF from the Entertainment Software Association (2008) says 50% of all video game players are over 50. “Over 50” is really too broad a category to derive information from especially considering the average age of an assisted living resident (86).
Cognitive value of video games seems clear
More and more assisted living communities are offering “brain health” programs involving computer technology. This is particularly true for more exclusive homes. Some of these mental stimulation programs claim to drastically improve memory, coordination and attention spans. They might use card tricks on a screen, Wi-Fi bowling or computer screen spelling.
The evidence for reversing cognitive decline through video games in not unanimous.
Older adult’s online presence
Pew researchers found 54% of those over 65 and 33% of those over 77 were online last year. These numbers make it highly unlikely that more seniors are playing video games than using the internet.
Older people are less afraid of computers than they’ve ever been and will learn to use them if they see a direct benefit (e.g. keeping in touch with grandchildren). However, it will be years before 60% of them play video games regularly.