It should not surprise you to hear that the best way to keep the mind sharp as we grow older is to USE IT. It has been ten or more years since Gerontology folks began discussing neurobics, universal design, lifelong learning and exercise for elders. It is likely that studies on aging and how to make aging less debilitating have a lot to do with the massive greying of America and that many of those aging baby boomers are politicians. OK by me, the end result would be the same. Research that leads to less physical and mental decline in those that I love and in myself. (oh silly me, it isn't the research that can protect us from "bad" aging, it is actually following the recommendations made because of that research - ha . ha. ha ..hahahaha ... good luck with that one)
We have known that diet and physical activity matter. We know that staying involved with people and engaged in life promotes well being and can improve cognitive functioning. (cognition is thought, thinking, mental activities)
It looks like a few Universities are being funded to study the effects of video games on the aging brain. Some are using off the shelf games while others are indeed using the Wii. The Wii has the added bonus of including physical activity which increases heart rate and can help to improve cardiovascular and physical function as well as mental status. Ironically, my MOM just got back from a trip where she was playing boxing with her great grand daughter.
So sharpen your pencils and do the crossword, play mind teasers, go for walks, eat fish, play Wii bowling, ride a bike, learn a new sport (pickle ball anyone?), use Rosetta Stone, travel, take a dance class........... live a little and then live long. :)
and by all means, if one of the research studies comes to your town, participate! It isn't like they are asking you to take a drug - nothing to risk here - so play, play, play
I didn't find a specific link to the video game research, but here is a link to the Prevention Research Centers affiliated with the CDC