Activity becomes a Wii adventure for nursing home residents

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NintendoWiii3people64.jpg

In the above photo, Parkside residents Ron Freeman and Francis Kreutziger play a game of baseball on the Wii. Looking on is Jake Wiebe, a high school volunteer who joins in the game from time to time.

Stop by Parkside Homes Inc. and you can cheer on senior citizens who are engaged in a game of baseball or golf?in the middle of their living areas and in comfort of air conditioning.

Ron Freeman and other residents are playing the Nintendo Wii, an interactive video game introduced to Parkside as part of its culture change initiative.

?Our residents want to be in 2008 and this is one way they can,? said Melissa Bartel, life enrichment coordinator at Parkside.

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The above photo shows their view of the television screen as they play.

The Parkside staff is incorporating the Wii into activities that are part of the weekly schedule. Whether ambulatory or confined to a wheelchair, residents can use the game, which requires eye-hand coordination and upper body movement.

The Wii involves mental and physical exercise, Bartel said, and has social benefits, too.

With the hot July outside temperatures, Bartel said, ?It?s a good inside activity.?

The decision to purchase the Wii was a team effort, Bartel said, made after hearing feedback from other nursing homes using the technology.

A handheld remote control is looped on the user?s wrist. The remote includes a motion sensor and buttons that enables users to maneuver the throw of a baseball or swing of a bat that is viewed on the television screen.

?We talked about having training but decided to just use it,? Bartel said.

She recently purchased sports attachments for the remote control?a bat, a tennis racket and a golf club that lend to the virtual reality of the game.

While the Wii includes the options of tennis, golf, baseball, bowling and boxing, Freeman said he especially likes to play baseball, both batting and pitching.

?Ron was the first to bowl with the Wii,? Bartel said.

The Wii has also provided some intergenerational interaction at Parkside.

This summer, Jake Wiebe, a sophomore at Hillsboro High School, volunteers weekly and plays Wii with the residents. He comes once or twice a week to play and interact with them.

?Jake came with the Wii,? Bartel said.

Hillsboro Community Medical Center?s Long-Care Unit purchased a Wii in mid-April and the residents are just starting to use it.

?We had an activity involving the staff and had an orientation to showed everyone how to play,? said Pam Buller, HCMC social worker. ?We had several residents play bowling and golf.?

So far it?s a hit for residents.

?They love it,? Buller said. ?It?s again learning a new thing. Most of them haven?t had computers. It?s a new thing they have to get comfortable with.?

Those who show the most interest are ones who can make the connection to the technology.

?A lot of them are fairly independent,? she said. ?Their cognition is very good.?

Others who are borderline don?t show as much interest, she added.

Buller also recognizes benefits for incorporating the Wii as an activity option.

?I think the interactive aspect of (the Wii) is beneficial,? Buller said. ?Whereas they can no longer go out particularly and bowl or golf, this gives them that ability. It?s very virtual. It?s like you?re actually doing it. Some of those things that are long gone, they can now do.?

The Wii also encourages social interaction.

?We have two remotes, or joysticks, so it can be interactive with each other,? she said. ?There?s competition there.?

Acquiring new skills has its benefits.

?I think it?s stimulating to learn something new,? Buller said. ?They have to think about their moves and what they?re doing.?

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