Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that playing real-time strategy games can help men and women in their 60s and 70s improve their mental skills. The study, which had a focus group of elderly men and women playing Big Huge Games' 2003 RTS Rise of Nations, found that the participants showed improvements in several mental tests after spending time playing the game. Areas significantly improved included the ability to switch between different tasks, working memory, and general reasoning ability. Short term memory of visual cues and the ability to identify rotated objects were also enhanced, albeit to a lesser extent.
As the child of two parents falling within the study's age group, I now know exactly what to get my parents for Christmas.
Video game improves seniors' mental skills [Times of the Internet]