Play Experiences for People with Alzheimer’s Disease
Hester Anderiesen, Erik Scherder, Richard Goossens, Valentijn Visch, Laura Eggermont


Little is known about the experience of people with dementia while playing games. This might be a reason why hardly any games are specifically designed for this group. We aimed to determine which play experiences can be expected to be suitable for persons in different stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Twenty-two play experiences were related to the neuropathology that is characteristic of the different stages of dementia: earliest, mild-to-moderate, and severe. This literature overview is based on neuroimaging, neuropathological, and clinical studies. We found that for all older persons with AD, regardless of disease severity, the play experiences sensation, relaxation, and reminiscence are likely to be suitable. The play experiences nurture, sympathy, fellowship, expression, humour, eroticism, subversion, and challenge may be appropriate only for those in the earliest and mild-to-moderate stages of AD. The play experience exploration is most likely not suitable, irrespective of the stage of AD. For the remaining play experiences we did not find sufficient evidence to draw conclusions. We conclude that the choice of play experiences in game design for older persons with AD is dependent on disease stage. Current recommendations may contribute to tailor-made games that are suitable for different persons with AD.

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