Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nursing Homes and Nintendo

We're all gonna get old someday.  I mean really old... like past 40...  just kidding.  I've been spending much of my spare time at the Scepter Rehab Facility and Assisted Living Center on Lenora Church Road in Snellville, GA. The care my mom has received has been nothing short of exemplary, and I've enjoyed going up there and cutting up with her roommate.  But I've looked around at the facility, and I've realized that the place is set up amazingly well for the people that are there.  But what about me? When I get old, I'll have different needs, hopefully, and I think it's time to do a little thinking about the future Nursing Home... for the people who have been steeped in technology from their birth. Certainly we cannot be expected to sit in wheelchairs in some dining room watching the Animal Planet ad nauseum.  Although, honestly, everyone needs to see shows about kittens now and then.

I doubt highly that those of us who are connected to the world via the Internet, through social media networks, able to watch movies, play games, be distracted 24/7 if we wish, are going to be content with the current state.  Fortunately, there already are business poised to take part in making the last years of our lives as entertaining as possible.  Let's take the Steam Network, produced by Valve (the company that made the amazing game Half-Life, one of the few first-person shooters I actually liked (see the Bioshock review prior to this for another)) It's a free program that, once downloaded onto a computer (which, in the future, even in the present, would be available through "smart TVs"), makes available large amounts of games at very economical prices.  There are also sites like Kongregate and the myriads of games on Facebook, but you know all this already. The cool thing would be having these games available at Nursing Homes everywhere.  The fees can be paid by the residences, their families, etc... Companies would make large profits off of a relatively captive audience.

My main thought, however, was to save the Nintendo consoles from extinction by employing Wii Sports as part of the Rehab activities in the dining rooms.  Nintendo has a large backlist of games that everyone my age on down loved to play as children, and I know they would be hits when we get older.  Imagine an 80 year old me playing Super Mario Bros. all over again.  We need that distraction in our lives, for silence has become our greatest enemy. We've become so used to stimulus inundating us every moment of our lives, from sleeping with the TV on to the music over the grocery store speakers, and it would be absolutely unbearable without something going on at all times.  And companies like Nintendo would do very well to understand what their customers will be in the future and plan for it today by working with Nursing Home facilities, Health Care Providers, and like companies to bring their products into what would normally be waiting rooms for death.  They could provide studies which show increased physical and mental abilities for people who keep their minds and bodies going with video games such as those on the Wii.  Everyone would profit, and it would keep the world of Nintendo alive long after the consoles have become unnecessary.  And speaking of those, with all the Wiis out there, those can easily be reprocessed and reprogrammed to be sold to facilities, and there can be repair people to keep them going.

And finally, there are the every increasing world of tablets.  Kindles, iPads...etc... all easily accessible and easy to use by anyone.  Although I am a big supporter of books (obviously), the advantages tablets have in small rooms where people move in and out quite a bit is obvious.  E-books can be easily read with large print, as well as magazines, newspapers, and all the electronic media that goes with them.  Crossword puzzles can be done, Facebook profiles checked, Skyping with loved ones, the options are endless.  This would work with everyone, but I think I'd go crazy if I didn't have some of this around to keep me occupied.  James Taylor sang, "The Secret of Life is enjoying the passage of Time." As long as we're able, let's enjoy life, even to the end of it, when we're sitting in our wheelchairs and playing Bingo on our iPads.