‘May the force be with you’ is a well-known refrain from the Star Wars movies, and that force is most definitely with Feros Care’s Alex McCord. She is the gifted and innovative Provisional Psychologist responsible for introducing the evidence-based Grand Gamers program to our residential aged care facilities in northern New South Wales, where she is responsible for mental health support.
While Alex’s award-winning Star Wars based gaming program has residents battling in cyberspace, her research has shown they are simultaneously combating age-related cognitive decline in real life, and the program’s positive results have seen gaming become a regular fixture at Feros Care facilities.
Alex’s Grand Gamers research, supported by an academic study, has filled a gap in research on cognition for those over 80. Recognising that even small declines can see individuals lose their capacity to live independently, she found residents who regularly played significantly improved their visual attention, ability to switch tasks, and working memory, with some of these benefits being sustained over time.
The statistical outcomes shows that cognitive exercises need to be both enjoyable and regular if they are going to have ongoing impact – and the fact residents now borrow consoles to play with their grandchildren has only added to its impact!
Grand Gamers has gained attention from the national media, been published in academic journals, and won the prestigious Elsie Harwood Award for best empirical research project in the field of ageing. Feros Care aims to enable clients to ‘boldly live a full life’ and Alex’s creative work validated in science plays a key part in making sure this happens.