Exergaming for the Elderly

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Here in Singapore, almost half of all residents are estimated to be aged 65 years or older by the year 2050. With a declining birth rate and a growing number of elderly citizens, the ageing population has proven to be a serious issue that the government wishes to address. For starters, they are ramping up construction of home care places to 10,000 by the end of this year – in hopes of providing enough facilities for our Merdeka Generation.

(Elderly at the TOUCH Senior Activity Centre, source: WKWSCI Alumni Magazine)

This is a step in the right direction. However, more nursing homes mean a higher demand for volunteers to administer care for the fragile occupants. Problems arise when finding additional volunteers, compounded by the already diminishing birth rate. Without people to socialise and interact with them, this creates a woefully lonesome atmosphere – a nightmare for the elderly in general. One resident at an old folks’ home cited the dullness of the facility; her fellow seniors could not properly communicate and her family rarely visited. Weeks would go by as she lied on her bed, staring into the sky as time sluggishly passes.

So, this seemingly unsolvable problem begs the question, what is Singapore to do?

Finding a Solution Via Technology

(Robots posing for a picture in a luxury hotel, source: The Straits Times)

The answer lies in the heart of a government initiative: To transform Singapore into a smart nation. Since 2014, the nation has pushed for a technological society; a community that thrives on pushing the boundaries of utilising modern advancements to bring innovation into everyday life. This applies anywhere around the country, from ordering food with an interactive kiosk to receiving your toiletries from a hotel robot.

(Illustration of Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative, source: enterprise europe network)

With this trend, we should ensure that every industry in Singapore receives the smart nation treatment and revolutionises itself into a state that is equally sophisticated. Most segments of society have already experienced modernisation to some degree, but there is one part of society that has been forgotten – elderly care. Amidst their mundane routine, we seek to exponentially change and instil a brighter and energised lifestyle.

As we seek to inject vibrant energy into the lives of the elderly, we turn to a well-refined concept that has endless possibilities to fulfil the future needs of the population: Exergaming.

What is Exergaming?

(Seniors interacting with Exergaming touchpoints, source: bq.sg)

To define Exergaming would be the combination of physical activity with gamification. As a concept, gamification is injecting elements from typical games to imbue elements of fun and excitement. These can range from scoring systems that quantify their abilities, multiplayer aspects to spur competitiveness and challenging activities to create a sense of accomplishment afterwards. When we include physical activity as a means to facilitate these experiences, we arrive at Exergaming.

Exergaming is the key to success for elderly care and has proven to be highly effective in keeping seniors active and healthy. One crucial factor that supplements this is the notion of perceived exercise. Typically, people will feel the exhaustive emotions that come with exercising on a running track or doing push-ups on the ground. This is completely normal. However, why is it that when we engage in sports such as soccer or badminton, we lack this exhaustive feeling – at least in the beginning?

This is a classic example of a difference in perceived exercise. When we experience fun, our brains release chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins. The effect of endorphins mask or hide any discomfort we may feel during moments of fun. This leads to heightened stamina during physical exertion and heavily works in favour of exergaming, especially for seniors who are quick to tire out. This sentiment is not just opinionated, but verified from a scientific perspective. In a study publish by multiple researchers, including one from Singapore, seniors who participated in Exergaming had higher levels of enjoyment as compared to those who did regular exercise.

Exergaming has the ability to invigorate seniors who are less motived to exercise. As such, we seek to implement this activity in nursing homes all around Singapore.

To better define how Trinax will implement Exergaming, we are utilising motion-based games to enhance the daily lives of our Merdeka generation. Let’s take a look at motion games and the many benefits this life-changing experience has to offer – both for the mind and body.

An Introduction to Motion Games

(Trinax’s exergaming activities, in conjunction with Prudential, SATA and NTUC Social Enterprise)

Covering the basics of motion games with a few examples, Trinax has achieved success in the field of motion-based activities that have gone viral among the public. In these experiences, players would be tasked to perform physical actions in order to complete the game’s objective – squats, yoga poses, etc. In most cases, rewards are given based on their performance to encourage a determined attempt at the activity.

To fulfil the game requirements, our projects comprise a common feature: technology that accurately detects body movement. This technology is facilitated with Trinax’s curated software, differing in aesthetics for each client. Our array of motion games showcases what Exergaming via motion-based games would generally entail, serving as highly applicable references toward our capabilities in both motion games and exergaming.

Rekindling the Senior Spirit

(Elderly lifestyle event held by Taggle Health, source: giving.sg)

Our goal is to orchestrate the transformation of elderly care, aligning with Singapore’s smart nation objectives. Even with the growing disparity in the ratio of volunteers to seniors that require care, we wish for the elderly to enjoy their lives and reap the rewards of technological advancements in this day and age.

With knowledge of exergaming and vast expertise in motion games, Trinax seeks to bring an exciting spark into the everyday lives of our Merdeka Generation. More than just business, we wish to bring joy to their mundane lifestyles, and let them know that they have not been forgotten amidst the fast-paced and ever-changing landscape of Singapore Society.

To help us in our goal of reinventing elderly care, do have a look at our array of motion-based projects via this link and contact us if you are keen to implement Exergaming.

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