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Alex McCord with Feros Village residents Hugh Webster and Lois Sanderson. Photo: Feros Care

A hit in aged care, Star Wars video games are

A group of aged care residents have shot down stormtroopers, defended AT-ATs and explored Hoth – all in the name of cognitive stimulation.

University of New England postgraduate student Alex McCord – who completed neuropsychological testing of 24 Feros Care residents before, after and one month following their time playing the video game Star Wars Battlefront – said she was keen to test whether gaming could serve as an enjoyable form of cognitive stimulation.

And, she said, it did.

McCord found it significantly improved residents’ ability to switch tasks and maintain visual attention. What’s more, these benefits were sustained one month later.

“Twice weekly gaming over three weeks also significantly improved working memory immediately after game play, but the gains regressed a month later,” she added.

“This suggests that game play should be ongoing to preserve its positive effects.”

Feros Village Byron Bay resident Hugh Webster. Photo: Feros Care

McCord said it’s not just older Jedis who can benefit from games in aged care – young Padawans might too.

“It’s great to think that one day youngsters might have to hand over the console when grandma or grandpa comes to visit,” she said.

“There would be added benefits of gaming with younger people as it would likely lift spirits through the intergenerational connection.”

Feros Care chief executive Jennene Buckley said the results of the research led the organisation to swiftly embed gaming in its residential care program. Feros Village Wommin Bay’s new group activity called ‘Grand Gamers’ is held weekly and one-on-one sessions have also been made available at both Wommin Bay and Feros Village Byron Bay.

“It’s one way we can assist residents to stay in control of their ageing and to push the boundaries, while retaining some important physical and mental skills,” Buckley said.

“It’s also a lot of fun. We have some very agile Jedi knights in our ranks.”

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