Video Game Changes Nursing Home

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

When you think of a nursing home, you might imagine a place to settle down and rest, but at the Basin's biggest retirement community they're doing anything but. 

Big competitions, playoffs, and tournaments are changing the norm for the retirees, and it's all thanks to a video game.

It's the wall of victory and most of the champions are over 70.

"The harder you flip it, the faster the ball goes!" Laddie Long, of the "Alley Cat" team, explained.

They've put away the shuffle board and the bingo cards and picked up a Wii controller.

"There's some real competitors both male and female," Cecil Ellis, "Black Knight" team member, said. "We have one lady in there that's 96 years old and she bowled 190 the other day."

"These people didn't know each other before and now they're great friends and they look out for each other," Lisa Hanson, Activities Director at The Villages at Manor Park, said.

Six teams at Manor Park in Midland bowl each week and the competition is getting pretty stiff.

But it's not just about a game of bowling. For these teams, it's brought physical and emotional healing and a chance to make new friends.

"We're able to tease each other and things like that and that helps alot when you're confined like we are most of the time," Tommie Derth, "Maybe Baby" team member, said. "You can see we're all in wheelchairs."

"It gives them purpose, and that's what they're looking for," Hanson said.

Harold volunteers at the community each week and is now affectionately known as coach.

"My mom is a different lady ever since this started," Volunteer and Coach Harold Campbell, said. "She was really fighting it, she didn't want to stay here. It was hard for her to accept that she was going to be in a nursing home. Ever since we started Wii Bowling, that broke her into the bingo. My mom is probably one of the most active women in the facility!"

The staff says for many it's even improving their memory, one strike at a time.

"We have one gentleman who cannot see," Hanson said. "He's legally blind. We say, 'just bowl!' He swings it and he gets a strike. He actually got a trophy in one of our tournaments!"

"Being together, really is the best thing about it," Long said.