A Houma nursing home is using video games to get residents up.
As at other nursing homes, residents at Maison de Ville eat at a specified time, socialize with staff and lie down for naps. But activities director Angela Streams says everything changes when she turns on the Wii, activating the handheld remote that lets residents interact with what's happening on the screen.
"They'll play for two or three hours," Streams said. "They really enjoy it."
She said her own play convinced her that the game system could get residents more active. "My family got one and we loved it, so I thought it might also be a good fit here."
Streams sold residents on Wii by telling them it was just a game.
"We have trouble getting them to buy into exercise, but in a lot of ways that's exactly what this is," she said. "What they think of as being a game actually is burning calories and keeping their motor skills up.
Lauren Vedros-Jones, a physical therapist who specializes in neuro-muscular physical therapy at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, said she's happy to see older adults using a Wii to get more active.
"Some of the benefits of the Wii is that you get that automatic feedback," said Vedros-Jones, who uses a Wii in her therapy program. "It gives them that visual feedback of what's going on."
The fan favorite at the nursing home is bowling, Streams said.
"Sometimes we even set it up on other days if they want to play," she said.
For instance, there was a recent challenge among three residents, Theresa Sneeze, Roosevelt Lafort and Donald Sonier.
Sneeze, 38, of Dularge, loves the Wii and claims to have a top score of 250.
"I enjoy playing it when they turn it on for us," Sneeze said. "I play it every Monday."
According to Amy Teeple at www.docshop.com, you can burn 78 calories an hour with Nintendo Wii's bowling — and 341 calories an hour with tennis and 360 calories and hour with boxing.
Lafort, 51, of Galliano, only discovered the device a few months ago. "What I like about it is it's challenging," Lafort said. "I'll usually play it for a few hours."
Vedros-Jones said while she celebrates the activity the Wii offers, she does emphasize that residents need to use full-body movements.
"If they're playing the 'Wii Sports' and they're not swinging their whole arm and they're just swinging their hand, then they're not going to get any of that cardio activity," she said. She also warns Wii users that repetitive small motions can aggravate arthritis.
Sonier, who moved in to Maison de Ville in January, said he felt a little bad about the taking advantage of games elsewhere.
"I've been playing the bowling game for a while and have gotten really good at it," he said. "To tell you the truth, I can almost throw a strike every time. I probably should have let the others win, but I didn't."
The 66-year-old Bayou Blue native stayed at Chateau Terrebonne Nursing Home before arriving at Maison de Ville.
"I feel bad about it (winning), so I'm not going to play again," Sonier said with a grin. "Well, maybe I'll play one more time and let them win a game or two."
Streams said the thing that makes the game so appealing is anyone can learn how to play.
"You have people like Mr. Roosevelt who've never played it, but pick it up real fast and have a blast with it," she said. "They feel great when they learn something new."