Assisted living residents get 2nd victory over Sandy firefighters

Published: Thursday, April 19 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

Betty Moon, center, good-naturedly heckles a Sandy firefighter during the second annual Wii bowling tournament between Atria Sandy residents and Sandy firefighters at Atria Sandy, a local assisted living community, in Sandy on Thursday, April 19, 2012. Seated with Moon is Rae Burbidge, left, and Helen Eldredge.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SANDY — Loud cheers erupted from the otherwise quiet game room at the assisted living community Thursday.

Amid the occasional dispatch crackle from a firefighter's radio, residents at the center shouted encouragement and dished out good natured trash talk while waving pompoms.

The enthusiasm was all centered around a competition between Sandy firefighters and the Atria Sandy Pin Eaters during the second annual Wii Bowling Championship.

“That’s too bad,” taunted resident Betty Moon, after a botched roll by a firefighter. 

Doris Morley, 89, sidled into position with her walker and responded by rolling a virtual spare, resulting in another explosion of cheers from the crowd. 

The competition is held for residents to have some fun and exercise and to thank the local firefighters, said Ron Gardener, executive director at Atria Sandy. “(The firefighters) are a huge support for us,” he said.

“We might otherwise come out under not optimal circumstances. These people are great — a forgotten generation,” said firefighter Jeff Jones, a first-time competitor.

“They schooled us the first year. But I’ve been practicing. I’ve been getting tips from my kids,” Jones said.

Residents had been practicing, too. The large flat screen TV and Wii game console is a permanent fixture at the community. Morley said she plays two to three times a week.

The Pin Eaters beat Sandy’s bravest 656 to 659 Thursday to hold onto the Fire Flame Trophy they won last year.

Physical video games, such as those played on Nintendo’s Wii, have become increasingly popular in assisted living communities because of their intuitive game play and reported health benefits.

“Many older adults assume their physically active years are behind them, but the Wii helps get them moving again. There is a lot of fun and it’s a good social skill for them to be together and compete,” said Liz Mason, a director at Atria Sandy.

Studies suggest that playing physical video games promotes coordination and has a positive impact on a player’s mood.

Virtual bowling especially seems popular with those in assisted living communities. The National Senior League brings seniors together across the country for an annual national championship in August.

E-mail: jhigginbottom@desnews.com

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