12 August 2019

More than half of people aged 75 and above feel lonely every now and then. As the population is aging increasingly, this is becoming a growing concern. A special collaboration between DELA, Radboudumc, and Games for Health will investigate whether joined gaming between elderly and young people can alleviate this social problem. For this purpose, they have received a grant of about 500.000 euros from the NWO’s research programme ‘Complexity and Creative Industry’. Together, DELA and Games for Health will invest another 250.000 euros in this project.

Connecting Generations

In order to fight loneliness, a digital gaming platform will be developed under supervision of clinical geriatrician Professor Marcel Olde Rikkert from the Radboudumc. “We think that the solution to loneliness is to connect different generations. Children very much like to engage in activities with their grandparents, and the elderly love to contribute to the development of their grandchildren.” he said.
The games will be developed through a so-called ‘research by design’ trajectory, which means that these games will be developed continuously, while simultaneously being tested with the target groups. The researchers have already received their first requests. Olde Rikkert: “We have received a request to develop a memory-game in which family pictures have to be coupled with memories. Surprisingly, even math games are a success. Children are eager to learn the multiplication tables as quick as possible, while the elderly enjoy teaching them.”  

Putting technology in service of the elderly

The key for a successful aging is the ability to adapt to changes in yourself and your environment. With each passing year, social capital becomes an increasingly important asset, yet it is an increasingly difficult one to cherish due to the passing of loved ones, and the fact that people find it harder to build and maintain  relationships as they age. There are many new technologies that can help people connect and make new contacts. However, they become less accessible due to an age-related decline in specific skills, something these technologies do not sufficiently take into account.   
The aim of the current project is to make these technologies accessible for the elderly. Jurriaan van Rijswijk, founder of Games for Health, said, “Play helps  people improve their adaptability, and games allow playing on a larger scale. Using scientific research, this project will enable us to show the effects of human adaptability. In addition, it is a nice continuation of an earlier study on cognitive behavioral development using our games.” 

Graceful aging

“Seniors increasingly tend to live at home independently. Unfortunately, some of them are suffering from loneliness. Same is true for our own members. By developing these games we create the opportunity for them to age gracefully -preferably, without any feelings of loneliness.”, says Sanne Geurtsen, Innovation Manager at DELA. 
Please visit www.dela.nl/innovatie (Dutch) to stay up to date with the latest developments of the game portal.

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