Playful Design for Activation: Co-designing serious games for people with moderate to severe dementia to reduce apathy

Hester Anderiesen

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

1963 Downloads (Pure)


Research finds that 90% of nursing home residents with dementia suffer from apathy, which negatively influences their physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. The goal of this project-grounded research is to develop a product-service system that stimulates nursing homes residents, living with moderate to severe dementia, to reduce their apathy. This thesis entails three preceding studies to inform the design project. A systematic literature review that addressed empirical studies that measured the effects of environmental stimuli on the level of physical activity of nursing home residents living with dementia. A qualitative exploration of the social environment of residents in nursing homes to explore the effect of the social aspects on their participation in daily and leisure activities. And a literature review to determine which play experiences can be expected to be suitable for persons in different stages of Alzheimer’s disease. During a co-design process the Active Cues Tovertafel was designed together with the people with dementia, their relatives and carers making use of a ‘Wizard of Oz’ prototype. We developed six serious games for the Tovertafel, which projects playful interactive light animations on existing dining tables in the nursing home environment. The games were evaluated on their effect on the apathy of the residents with moderate to severe dementia during a small-scale study and the results show significant improvement in physical activity. Moreover, the results also indicate improvements in social interaction, happiness, and reduction of anger, fear and sadness. In sum, the present study shows that co-designed serious games can play a beneficial role in the dementia care context.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Goossens, R.H.M., Supervisor
  • Sonneveld, M.H., Supervisor
Award date24 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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