People with dementia playing casual games on a tablet

Hanny Groenewoud*, Jacomine de Lange, Yvonne Schikhof, Arlene Astell, Phil Joddrell, Marleen Goumans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Preserving clients' quality of life (QoL) has become increasingly important in dementia care. Engagement in pleasant and meaningful activities may influence this QoL. We studied people with dementia's experiences and views of independent tablet games in a practice-based study, conducted at two day-care centres and five small-scale living facilities for people with dementia in the city of Rotterdam. Methods The participants were 54 clients (24 men, 30 women; mean age 83 years) who participated in a total of 177 game-playing sessions. Ten existing iPad games and three new game prototypes were evaluated. Written informed consent was obtained from the clients or the clients' representatives prior to the study. Data collection included epidemiological and game playing characteristics. Observers took note of the specific game(s) offered, the clients' mood and engagement, and the duration of game playing. Immediately after each participant finished playing, a short 4-question interview was conducted to discover their opinion on the game. The participants' answers were recorded verbatim. Qualitative content analysis was used to explore their experiences and views of the games. Results This study revealed positive experiences related to people's need for achievement, self-esteem, sense of connection and belonging, identity, having something to do, and admiration for the game. Negative experiences included failure (low self-esteem), annoyance and a sense of insecurity. Conclusions This study shows there is potential for people with dementia to play casual games on a tablet as a pleasant and meaningful activity. It is important, however that there is a match between the game, the touchscreen skills of the person with dementia, and their ambitions or interests. It is challenging to find the right game for the right person. An interactive tool to support the choice of the game that is most suitable and a database of dementia-friendly tablet games may support the use of these games by people with dementia, in health care organisations as well as at home.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

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