Designing interiors to accommodate for Wii bowling residents

First of all, no matter what anyone tells you, residents are not too old or incapacitated to participate in Nintendo’s Wii bowling.

Over the last year I had this particular interactive video game come up in most of my design meetings, with people gathered on opposing sides stating the reasons why residents can’t or can participate. Frankly, I was irritate by the amount of caregivers discouraging the activity and the design community seeing residents as “feeble” and not engaged, and therefore they are not able to participate well enough to enjoy the activity.

Anyone who spends most of their time designing for long-term care knows that design revolves around a couple of items that you take from the basic requirements that everyone has to meet. Those items are dining and activities. If you want to get technical, dining is the #1 activity, so in fact all design revolves around what activities the resident’s will do, where and with whom.

Proper design for an activity like Wii bowling takes special consideration for a couple of reasons.

· Seniors are not able to get up and out of their chairs as fast as a 20-year-old (if at all) so the space needs to be clear of all obstructions, not too tight, and preferably in an open space.

· Wii Bowling is also a spectator sport and ample space needs to be provided for others to watch but not get in the way.

· Space also needs to be left for wheelchairs, those standing, and regular seats for teams. Oh, did I mention teams? Quite a few homes have leagues with teams of two bowlers on each team. This requires quite a bit of space and the participants get very serious about the game.

· If possible, have a change in flooring to clearly mark where residents are allowed to stand during bowling. This is to keep the play fair and friendly but you should also take care to not create a tripping hazard.

· The TV or screen needs to be at eye-height for a standing individual.

· Acoustics are helpful. If the space can be designed so that high absorption materials are used, players will find it easier to communicate, thus increasing the fun!

We learned all of this when we hosted our first Wii Sports tournament for seniors; the oldest participant was 96 and more than 34 teams showed up. If you think stamina was an issue you’re dead wrong! The tournament lasted from 10:00am till 4:00pm and in the end I was more tired than the residents.

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