Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Nursing Home Technology: Wii Video Game (Video 58 secs.)

During the past year, something unexpected has enhanced the culture change in some senior citizen communities. That phenomenon is the playing of Wii (pronounced “we”), a Nintendo video game that leads the nation in sales. Why unexpected? Most of the players have never used a video game before.

This popular cross-generational game is played with a handheld remote control (cutely called a “Wiimote”) that is mounted to the wrist and includes a motion sensor. Players press buttons and move to translate their actions onto a television screen. As complicated as that sounds, the game is very user friendly. Unlike most video and computer games, Wii involves a pleasing combination of mental and physical exercise, along with positive social interaction. There are several digital versions such as bowling, tennis, golf, and baseball. The best way to understand how Wii works is to watch people play. Click here to see a
Wii bowling game in progress.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog


  1. This is very interesting. It does make sense as Wii is fun to play and does improve dexterity and concentration.

    It seems as though technology is becoming more important in nursing homes and other long term care facilities. Are there technologies out there that help keep residents of these facilities in touch with thier families? Though the Wii is fun, it woudl be better if it allowed residents to see, or hear, or communicate with family members.

  2. Thanks for writing, Jer. That’s a good observation.
    There are numerous technological innovations that are being implemented in nursing homes across the country, but not in nearly enough. In my book, “Becoming Dead Right,” a wide variety of best practices are mentioned in a chapter called “Baby Boomer Haven.”

    A few innovations that promote more family togetherness are these:

    1) Emailed copies of the nursing home newsletter, so family members can keep track of activities, especially those in which they can participate
    2) A nursing home website that allows family members to view their loved ones over the Internet in certain areas of the nursing home
    3) A state-of-the-art wireless computer network that keeps track of where patients are at all times
    4) Monitored video cameras strategically stationed outdoors and throughout the building to help everybody feel safe and encourage family members to visit more, especially at night

    Because technology evolves so quickly, there are probably many more.

  3. Thank you so much for your response.

    As someone who has had a family member in a nursing home, I know my biggest concernes were always, are they happy? and are they safe? I am sure these thoughts are consistent with the majority of families who have a loved on in a nursing home.

    Your thoughts about cameras and web access are very interesting. However, are there not regulations that would prevent a nursing home or other facility to have residents on camera?

    How great would be if folks in a nursing home could have access to a technological system that allowed them to stay "connected" to home!?

  4. Monitoring cameras are a part of normal life these days. Even dog kennels and daycare centers have them for “parents” to check in on their computers. They are only used in selected areas in nursing homes. Some nursing homes encourage patients to use computers to contact others and stay connected.