Based on news reports during the past year, the Nintendo Wii game system, especially Wii Sports, is being used more frequently in assisted living and independent living facilities across the country as entertainment and as physical therapy. Not surprisingly, some local establishments for seniors have recently started using Wii Sports as part of the activities program for their residents. “About a month and a half or two months ago we introduced Wii Sports to our residents,” said Jennifer Shuck, activities director for Westminster House in Kingwood. “We’ve held tournaments for bowling, baseball and golf and they were all so excited about it. They love it!” Shuck said their residents range in age from 55 to 90. Shuck said she has a core of very active ladies and she hopes to recruit a few gentlemen for the next Wii tournament in July. Everyone who plays receives a certificate of participation as well as a prize such as a complimentary dining gift card or spa treatment. “Jean Turner is a retired middle school principal who has always been active and she was so excited to be a participant,” Shuck said. Turner was the runner-up for both the golf and bowling tournaments. Rose Melancon was the MVP of the Wii baseball tournament. A lot of the residents enjoyed being spectators as the other participants played in the tournaments, Shuck said. Earline Zelenevitz, winner of the golf and bowling tournaments, has already reached expert level in golf and is ready for more advanced play. “Earline usually wears dressy shoes every day and one day she wore her sneakers and said they were her bowling shoes. It was great,” said Shuck. “Ottamease Sanders is the oldest resident we’ve had play the Wii. She is 92 years old. She was the first resident to step forward to try Wii boxing!” said Shuck. A lot of Westminster’s seniors are now more willing to go on outings and are more open to trying new ideas because of the positive experiences they’ve had with the Wii games. The Westminster House is a gated independent living facility located at 2807 Kings Crossing Drive. Also including Wii Sports games in their activities is Atria Kingwood, an assisted living facility located at 2401 Green Oak Drive. Activities director Stephanie Thomas said she introduced the Wii at her facility about two months ago. Thomas said that Atria residents enjoy playing Wii Sports activities in the evening and she has added additional controllers to keep up with demand. “The son of one of our residents brings his two children when he visits and they play Wii together as a family here. When the grandmother started to show the grandkids how to use it, they told her, ‘We know, Granny; we know.’ It was so cute,” said Thomas. With the Nintendo Wii game system, one finds a whole new world of video games. It is nothing like the games of the past when all a player had to do was sit and push buttons. The interactive games of Wii Sports actually make a player feel like they are on a tennis court, in a bowling alley, on a golf course or even a ski slope. It can be a real workout. The Wii Sports tennis game features active play which involves serving the ball as well as receiving. The player uses forehand and backhand strokes, just like the real thing. When the player is bowling, they get the sensation of holding a real bowling ball by having to raise the Wii remote and swing back and release the “ball”. Others may enjoy golf or boxing using Wii Sports, while baseball might be a game of choice for some. Photo: Activity assistant Craig Wilson and Westminster House resident and Wii boxing champ Ottamease Sanders “boxes” while owner Chuck Snider looks on.

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