How carers can use play to benefit seniors with dementia during lockdown

As a healthcare professional working in elderly care, you will undoubtedly have to deal with this during lockdown: navigating the balance between maintaining the mental and physical well-being of your residents. You want to keep challenging your residents physically but at the same time protect their health by closing the doors to outside visitors. And what about their mental wellbeing? How do you keep residents healthy, both mentally and physically, when resources and social stimulants are scarce?

Play therapy, in particular, is a very good method for engaging patients with dementia and other cognitive disorders. The power of play can help with two important factors:

  • keeping residents active
  • stimulating social interaction between residents

Did you know that 90 percent of residents suffer from apathy in care institutions? During lockdown these problems only get bigger. Research has shown that for patients with early- to late-stage dementia, playing interactive games can be extremely helpful and effective. Play can cut through apathy and boost social contact and satisfaction while reducing frustration, anxiety and sadness. Below, we will talk you through how this works. 

The element of surprise

“We found that the element of the unexpected was a powerful mechanism when we co-developed the Tovertafel (which means “Magic Table” in Dutch)”, Hester Anderiesen Le Riche says. In 2015, she co-created Tovertafel during her PHD together with patients living with dementia, their families and caregivers. Hester says: “We discovered that interactive light games can even help residents who are normally really withdrawn. Carers are sometimes amazed by what their residents can still do when they see the reactions to our games.” 

For patients in the later stages of dementia, it’s crucial to focus on elements in the game that they can still enjoy. Hester explains: “Sensory stimulation through light and sound, relaxation and reminiscence are game components that people in the later stages of dementia can still experience. In our game design, we take that into account.”

Games specifically designed for dementia

The stimulation and opportunities for social engagement provided by group play are invaluable at times where loneliness is widespread. In these hard times, where visits and interaction from loved ones is restricted, caregivers can use the power of play to maintain quality of life for their residents.

Would you like to know more about Tovertafel and our games specifically designed for seniors living with dementia? Take a look at our website or contact us for more information.