Pensioners keep fit by playing Wii games

CARE home residents have been showing the youngsters a thing or two on the latest state-of-the-art computer technology.

James Hore

ANYONE walking past the Sutherland House residential home in Essex yesterday could have been forgiven for not believing their eyes.

For inside a group of perky pensioners were leaping about playing interactive computer games in a bid to keep active in a fun way.

Computer games have traditionally been the first choice for teenagers and students, but the residents of Sutherland House in Chelmsford have taken to their Nintendo Wii like ducks to water.


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The console recreates the actions of the person playing on to the screen, meaning the game playing also encourages fitness.

The home's love affair with technology does not stop as the pensioners also enjoy surfing the internet and keeping in touch with e-mail.

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Just 18 months ago Albert Hearn had no idea even how to spell computer, let alone use one.

But the 86-year-old is now the home's “postman”, writing e-mails for others and also a dab hand on the Wii.

The former tank driver with The 9th Queen's Royal Lancers said the computers helped people make new friends and had brightened up his life.

“I did not have a clue before, but I can now send e-mails, surf the web and look up hotels and go back down memory lane to look at old singers of my day such as Matt Monro.

“The Wii is very sociable - the ten-pin bowling is very popular at the moment and playing it really gets people physically involved in the game.”

Mr Hearn once played amateur football for Stratford United in London as a youngster, so he knows a thing or two about hand-to-eye co-ordination which has helped him when playing against his grandchildren.

He said: “We were very surprised when the computers first arrived, but they have done a lot for people's confidence and self-esteem.

“It really is a social activity and has made the people here closer as it is something of a fellowship.”

The “Essex Unite” project introduces older people to computers and the internet for the first time and began last year.

It has now benefited 150 people in eight residential homes across the county with more people taking part every day.

The aim is to reduce social exclusion and there is also training to enable residents to trace family history and use e-mail.

The project is funded by Essex County Council, the Chelmer Housing Partnership and the Genesis Community.

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