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ElderGames to Stimulate Aging Mental Skills

European researchers have built a computerised play platform for elderly people. Field testing shows that the system keeps elderly players mentally sharp, stimulates socialisation, and can alert caregivers to developing problems.

"Elderly people need to feel useful, to feel capable, and to feel that they have things that are interesting to do."

The ElderGames play platform and suite of games meet all of those objectives and they provide an opportunity to have a good time.

Attractive Computerised Play Platform

The ElderGames project, which received funding from the EU for research, had several goals: create an attractive, easy-to-use play platform that could support a wide variety of computer-driven games, and that would allow caregivers to assess the cognitive skills of individual players over time.

ElderGames Demonstration Game

The desktop ElderGames demonsration game is based on the development of a classic game of MEMO, in which the players must remember and pair cards linked together among themselves by different types of relations (association, guessing, image-sound, etc…). The ElderGames player who manages to get the highest number of cards in their individual scoreboard by pairing MEMO cards and finding the correct solution to the recreational exercises displayed will be the winner.
Researchers needed to be able to identify individual players accurately, and to track each person’s play on a moment-to-moment basis.

Multiple cameras are mounted on risers at the corners of the table and players use special handheld pointers that indicate their moves or choices. The cameras and pointers allow real players to interact naturally with the virtual world on the display.

The result is a comfortable table with graceful bays on all sides which make it easy for players to reach anywhere on the large plasma or LCD display that makes up most of the table’s surface.

Different Games for Different Skills

The ElderGames team identified and developed games that seniors would find interesting, would stimulate socialization, and would challenge important cognitive skills.

Working with a variety of experts, they homed in on a set of important mental abilities that are most affected by ageing:

  • The ability to maintain and direct one’s attention
  • Executive functions such as planning, problem-solving and decision-making
  • Fine motor skills
  • Memory

They analyzed hundreds of games to find ones that engage key mental skills, that could be played interactively, and that were challenging and enjoyable enough to entice players to play again.

The result is a suite of 20 games that seniors or caregivers can select, which together exercise all of the targeted skills.

The researchers also developed software that tracks the functioning of each player over time, with the aim of providing caregivers with an early warning of potentially serious cognitive changes.

Trials have shown that the ElderGames system benefits seniors in a variety of ways such as promoting active, healthy aging.

Play and Leisure = Life Satisfaction

Many studies show that play and leisure activities correlate to life satisfaction and ElderGames supports that research.

Monitoring and Assessment for Professionals

Health providers are able to get high-quality individual information from these group activities, and this multiplied their ability to monitor and assess their clients.

Even though the elderly players know that their performance is being tracked, they are relaxed and responding naturally, in contrast to their performance in anxiety-provoking clinical testing situations.

Read more at: www.sciencedaily.com

ElderGames Project
Malena Fabregat / Francisco Ibáñez
Phone: +34 965554475
Fax: +34965554490
e-mail: eldergames@aiju.info
www.eldergames.org


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