Ageing well involves ageing actively – and games play an important role in doing that!
As we age, we naturally experience a decline in our body’s physical functions that often causes us to become less physically and mentally engaged too. Still, there are many low to medium intensity games that the elderly can play to exercise their minds and bodies, and to forge social connections with the people around them.
That’s why many elderly day care centres like ours (Orange Valley Longevity Day Care Centre) organise elderly-appropriate games and activities to help seniors experience a healthier ageing process. Here are 4 ways that playing games benefit the elderly in Singapore:
1. Cognitive skills
When seniors play games like board, card games or puzzles, they exercise cognitive skills like memory, reasoning and judgement. New pathways in their brains are created every time they figure out new solutions to challenging problems. Sudoku, solitaire, bingo, and hangman are only some of the many games that the elderly can play to exercise their brains, improve cognitive functions and fight memory loss. Today, digital games have also shown to provide exciting mental benefits – some focus on improving memory, while others focus on enhancing visual recognition skills – at the same time benefiting an elderly’s emotional well-being!
2. Practices coordination and dexterity
It is not necessary for the elderly to engage in high-intensity physical activity to practice physical coordination; even indoor games with minimal physical activity can help the elderly achieve better coordination and exercise their fine motor skills. Rolling the dice, moving game pieces on a board, picking up and shuffling cards are all actions that require fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. The elderly at our day care centres love to play mahjong, one of the games that require lots of small actions like picking up each mahjong piece or shuffling the mahjong pieces on the table!
3. Stay physically healthy
That’s right, games that require bigger movements and more physical activity are also great for practising gross motor skills and keeping fit. Medium intensity games like throwing and catching, dancing, or kicking allow the elderly to engage bigger muscle groups in their arms, legs, and torso, plus increase heart rate and blood flow; they also strengthen the heart, lungs, bones, joints and even reduce falls by improving balance. For elderly who are mobile, playing these types of games will indeed help them to keep fit and stay healthy!
4. Social interaction
Human beings are social creatures, whether at age seven or seventy, we thrive when we are connected to others around us. At an older age, seniors who do not have a strong family support system or opportunities for socialisation will retreat into isolation and loneliness. Social isolation and loneliness, in turn, can cause mental issues like anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive decline or physical issues like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Social games give seniors a chance to interact with their peers, make friends, and share conversations with people around them. Again, games like mahjong, bingo, Chinese chess etc. are highly interactive. Other team games like water balloon toss (having to partner with another person and ‘compete’ against other pairs) or balloon volleyball (tossing a balloon back and forth with another person) also allows seniors to work together with one another and strengthen social bonds.
Overall, playing games boosts mental, physical, social activity, and greatly benefits seniors’ emotional and physical health. Playing games also reduces stress, increases laughter and fun, and just creates a better environment for seniors to age happily and healthily. At our senior day care centre, we make sure that seniors are engaged with purposeful and enjoyable activities. Whether it is arts and crafts, interactive games like mahjong and bingo, or pet therapy sessions, the elderly can always relish in fun, social activities to pass their time!
Orange Valley is a nursing home in Singapore that provides top-quality and passionate care for elderly in Singapore. Be it day care or long-term care, we make sure that seniors are always engaged and having fun – for happy and healthy ageing. Find out more about the games we play and activities we do with our seniors through our Facebook page!