Long term care and videogames: two subjects that do not match each other, right? Let’s try rephrasing it: technology and baby boomers. Still, doesn’t fit? But according to an eMarketer report conducted last year, 69.4% of baby boomers (primarily from the US) actively use their smartphones to communicate, learn, and play games. And the number of seniors getting into mobile (and in effect, integrating current technology for daily use) is growing, with an expected figure of 48.5 million mobile-savvy baby boomers by the year 2019.
Now let’s get back to videogames. As shown above, seniors adapt to the changes in technology. Videogames, in essence, can connect to how long term care can be promoted, done, and sold in several avenues. Let’s try and figure out what these various and possible links are:
Perhaps the main reason why videogames and LTC aren’t associated with each other is that almost no one can’t visualize or imagine elder gamers. Ironically enough, elderly players outnumber teenagers last 2015, according to the Entertainment Software Association. And just like any retiree, these players need attention and care. Whether this attention revolves around the ideas of health, rest and recreation, or simply having someone to be there for them, the important factor is that a large part of a country’s population belongs to the elderly. And sooner or later, these senior gamers will grow in number, with a projected number of 105 million active elder players by 2045.
Elderly gamers face a problem, wherein most individuals from the gaming industry tend to stereotype older players as inept gamers. Senior players tend to be pigeonholed to games solely meant for mental or memory improvement. Although nothing can stop a person from playing a game, videogames aren’t just marketed to the elderly generation properly.
As noted on some of our previous articles, more people are in need of long term care. The number of individuals who need to have access to proper care and attention is expected to increase as well in the future, with medical advancements resulting to longer life spans. More people need to be aware of seniors’ welfare, and this is commonly done by highlighting the benefits one can gain from being covered.
The main hurdle that LTC is currently experiencing is the premium price hikes that have been announced on most policies. With long term care insurance as a viable plan to pay for LTC needs, the steep rate increases for policies have been a turn-off for existing and potential clients to apply for coverage.
Let’s connect the dots. Awareness and attention: common denominators between LTC and videogames. And probably these two factors may help each subject with their individual problems.
Bob De Schutter (professor of applied game design, Ohio’s Miami University), revealed in a Polygon article of debunking the “one older player” myth (of the problem that the elderly have on being stereotyped as inept players). Senior players can be as passionate (even better) as those in the younger generations. Take the case of Shirley Curry, otherwise known as “Gamer Grandma.” With several videos of her playing the popular open-world, role-playing game Skyrim, Curry is an example of a senior excelling in the videogame industry – in fact, AARP plans to feature her in an upcoming issue.
The current videogame industry can be considered as transcendental: it’s a blur between reality and dreams when contemporary games can give more popular media (such as movies) a run for their money. This interactivity is appealing for baby boomers, by granting them an opportunity to explore (and in effect, exceed in) a new world.
When it comes to awareness for the older generation of gamers, more videogame companies have started to take notice of the significant and growing demographic. As noticed by Celia Pierce, a game design consultant who wrote a study on baby boomer gamers (and as mentioned in the Polygon article), Asian gaming companies actively try to target and create games for the elderly. In fact, Pierce was surprised by gaming giant’s Nintendo participation in an AARP convention last 2006.
Cultural perspective and whatnot, it is a good start for people to begin noticing and address the presence of seniors.
Regarding notice and address of older adults, an LTCI was mainly designed to do just that. Financial experts and agents are available (even online) to help create customized solutions for potential policy owners. Education is the key to convincing the people the importance of being covered for the future. Which is why we continue to release blogs (such as our feature on women and LTC) to help people from all walks of life to further understand the importance of an LTCI.
Elder care and health issues are also great topics to link the need of LTCI. The peace of mind that a policy brings cannot be stressed enough – a pity that price hikes can distort the possible benefits one gains, in case something dire happens in the future.
Another is the ever-evolving sales pitches utilized by agents to reach out to customers. From conventional mail to connecting online, LTCI specialists and agencies are constantly hard at work to make sure that people get the care and attention they deserve.
Just like elderly people and videogames, LTCI tends to be put on the back burner, only to be remembered when it is least expected (or for the worst case, when an actual situation deems for coverage to be used). However, it is also a good start for people to begin noticing and address the presence of seniors, and of having access to security during the retirement years.
A learning curve is always in place, whether this may be for insurance or a game. Again, it’s a start, and this beginning does show some promise. Let’s try to link up videogames and LTC directly:
-Understanding an issue such as Alzheimer’s can either be painful or complicated. But who would have known that a gamer was able to connect (and understand) the disease with a videogame? A favorite blog entry on gaming site Destructoid resulted not only to people raving about the game – Alzheimer’s was also given a fresh perspective, engaging more people to understand the disease. In a way, videogames can prove to be an alernative medium to promote awareness and education for mental and health issues.
- A link to the past (pun intended), a bridge for generations to share something in common – videogames can be avenues for baby boomers to spend time with the younger generation. Depending on the circumstances, millennials (and those even younger) can connect and bond with the elderly through play. These game sessions can create memories for all parties to treasure. It can even be emotional, as experienced by this player (and his father’s saved game file).
-Further expanding understanding health issues commonly encountered in LTC, a virtual reality app about the mental topic has recently been launched. A Walk Through Dementia hopes to let individuals understand how dementia feels like.
- The AARP even has its own free gaming portal. Retirees can choose from different titles to play, proving that games are an essential (and much-needed fun) part of their lives. In fact, AARP stated that 50% of elderly gamers cite “fun” as a motivating factor versus regular rehabilitative exercises.
At the end of the day, the LTC and videogame industries continue to thrive in their respective fields mainly because they deliver what they can for those who promote their services and products. And with a big chunk of those who promote as seniors, we should all use whatever resources we have to improve and create better solutions.
We shouldn’t exclude the elderly. We shouldn’t take long term care out of the equation. We shouldn’t see videogames as a mere medium of fun. Opportunities abound, and solutions are many. We just need to see things through a different set of eyes; get a new perspective to create better and viable answers.
Do you have any thoughts or ideas on the topic above? Please comment below!
LTC Global Agency is the premiere, independently owned long term care insurance marketing organization in the country. Founded in 2002 by a team of financial and actuarial experts, LTC Global Agency aims to provide fast, reliable, and accessible products and support, to assist agencies and brokers in creating effective solutions for clients in need of the best long term care insurance plans.