Sweatin’ to the Oldies

Didn’t get a Wii for Christmas? Maybe it’s time to finally visit Grandpa at the home again …

It has on occasionally been said of the Wii, (by mainly Playstation and Xbox fans,) that the Nintendo system is strictly a plaything for little kids. Well, if recent news stories from all over the globe are any indication - this could not be less true. While an avid Wii fan myself, it appears that I may have to compete for future titles with a demographic that has even surprised Nintendo themselves — seniors. Keep in mind, these people are up before the sun has even thought about rising and as a result will be at the store hours before any of us.


Move over you whippersnapper and get off their virtual lawn! The crochet and crosswords sit neglected as seniors across the globe take up their Wii remotes. The video game system that’s been a hit among the younger generations for the past year is quickly becoming a sensation at senior-living communities. Wii Sports is the current craze and bowling has proved to be the most popular game at many homes with leauges and tournaments also becoming quite popular. If my Nana is any indication, many seniors belonged to a bowling league in their earlier years, and the Wii has helped them recapture a part of their youth. In truth, I had not previously thought of playing with my Nana but I can assure you I soon will now as the internet is also teeming with stories with people telling of their grandparents Wii addictions even in their own homes. The thought of all these people playing Wii before calling us to come over and help them figure out how to work their coffeemakers and/or touch-tone phones is a little-boggling — but it is happening! Before she moved into a retirement home, my Nana’s spare bedroom was teeming with bowling trophies — she assured me it was extremely popular for some time. Now, with a Wii and a little imagination, even with her arthritis she may be able to relive her glory days. Of course, I just realized that this may be the first time in history that the terms ‘bowling’ and ‘glory days’ may have appeared in the same sentence, but I digress.


Nintendo almost certainly didn’t set out to appeal to older adults when it created Wii, but company officials are pleased the game has caught on at retirement communities. “It just proves our point that anyone at any age can be a gamer,” said Amber McCollom, a public relations manager for Nintendo. However, it is clear that Nintendo is now embracing their new-found fans — positioning the system not just for kids, but for seniors, too! How else would you explain the company showing up at Life@50+, an annual event sponsored by AARP? The event, intended for those over the age of 50, attracted more than 20,000 people and featured a wide range of panel discussions, celebrities and exhibitors showcasing products for older Americans. Yes, you heard me right - Nintendo was there. That Nintendo. It sounds like I will be setting my alarm the day Wii Fit comes out.

Many in the health and medical professions agree with a statement from a research manager at Help the Aged, who said: “Anything that gets elderly people up off their feet and trying something new is a very good thing. While there have been no studies to date specifically into the health benefits effects of the Nintendo system on the elderly, the Wii has already been clearly shown to burn up calories and help weight loss. Additionally, there is little questions that encouraging seniors to stay physically and mentally active is a good thing.


Of course, where there is a Wii, there will be kids. It’s like a ‘nursing home of dreams’ — get one and they will come. The game has also become “a grandkid magnet,” giving residents’ grandchildren another reason to visit, according to a retirement home employee, adding, “I’ve seen grandkids check our activity calendar so they can be here when we’re playing Wii.” The assisted living director at another home said the only problem she’s had with Wii is that it’s made her less popular at home. Though her retirement community snared the hot-selling game six months ago, she hasn’t been able to find one for her children. “I’ve told them that they may have to wait until they’re old enough for senior living,” she said. “That hasn’t gone over very well.”

All I can say in closing is that you better hope you don’t end up in the same home as me — I’ll have a four decade head-start old timer!

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