AGEWELL 2015 Abstracts

Full Papers
Paper Nr: 2

Barriers and Adaptations of a Digital Game for Older Adults


Robyn Schell, Simone Hausknecht and David Kaufman

Abstract: The number of older adults playing digital games is increasing. However, there are few studies that focus on barriers that can limit ageing players from fully participating in these games. This paper describes some key findings regarding barriers reported by 17 older adults who played Wii bowling in an eight week tournament and how they adapted their playing style to overcome these barriers. This qualitative study found that physical issues such as visual impairment, balance, and strength affected the way these older adults played, but these limitations did not appear to curtail their enjoyment of the game. This may be partly due to adaptations they implemented in order to play such as using walkers, canes and other aids to support themselves. Adequate space was an important consideration for those using such aids.

Paper Nr: 3

Building Seniors' Social Connections and Reducing Loneliness Through a Digital Game


Simone Hausknecht, Robyn Schell, Fan Zhang and David Kaufman

Abstract: Quality of life is related to social interactions as social connectedness can be an important aspect in older adults’ sense of well-being. Technology offers many opportunities for older adults to build social connections and possibly reduce feelings of loneliness. In recent years, investigations into using digital games for older adults have shown some positive results. This study involved 73 participants in 14 different centres across a large city in western Canada. The group played in a Wii digital bowling tournament that lasted for eight weeks. Pre and post-tests were given to measure social connectedness, and loneliness. Semistructured interviews then were conducted with 17 participants. Positive results were found for social connectedness and loneliness.

Paper Nr: 4

Computer Games for Older Adults beyond Entertainment and Training: Possible Tools for Early Warnings - Concept and Proof of Concept


Béla Pataki, Péter Hanák and Gábor Csukly

Abstract: Old age cognitive deficit is a relatively new mass-phenomenon due to the fast growth of older populations, and the fact that dementia is chronic, progressive, long lasting and, so far, incurable. However, in the early phase of cognitive decline symptoms do not manifest clearly, and may remain unexplored for a longer period of time. Clinical tests, using either paper-based or computerized methods, are made quite infrequently, providing too sparse snapshots of the cognitive performance. In this paper, computer games are proposed for home monitoring of possible significant changes in mental state. This approach is advantageous as it is a regular but voluntary method. This way, more frequent assessments are possible than with the traditional clinical test scenario. Problem descriptions, possible solutions and methods, presented in this paper, have been elaborated in the AAL project Maintaining and Measuring Mental Wellness (M3W). The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a computer game toolset and a methodology for monitoring the mental state of older adults remotely (at home). As it is a complex task, only basic considerations and concepts, a few challenges, problems and potential solutions, the proposed architecture, and the proofs of the concept are presented in the paper.

Short Papers
Paper Nr: 7

Computer-assisted Intervention using Touch-screen Video Game Technology on Cognitive Function and Behavioural Symptoms for Community-dwelling Older Chinese Adults with Mild-to-Moderate Dementia - Preliminary Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial


Ruby Yu, Dawn Poon, Ashley Ng, Kitty Sit, Jenny Lee, Bosco Ma, CM Lum, Fannie Yeung, Martin Wong, Elsie Hui and Jean Woo

Abstract: Objective: This study explored the potential benefits of a computer-assisted intervention using touch-screen videogame technology on cognitive function and behavioural symptoms in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia. Methods: A randomized-controlled-trial is being conducted comparing a videogame training and a conventional cognitive training. Until January 2015, 32 community-dwelling older Chinese adults (mean age 83y, range 70-99y, 69% women) with mild-to-moderate dementia were randomly assigned to the videogame training (intervention group n=16) or the cognitive training (control group n=16). The intervention group performed a computer-assisted training encompassing 4 videogames using touch-screen interfaces for 30 minutes/session, 1-2 sessions/week for a total of 8 sessions; the control group performed a matched training encompassing 4 cognitive activities for same amount of time. Results: The intervention group demonstrated significant improvements in game performance, Montreal Cognitive Assessment language sub-score, Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) total and distress scores, while the control group showed improvement in activity performance and NPI distress score (all P<0.05). Compared to the control group, the intervention group had significantly improved Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory total score and verbally aggressive sub-score (both P<0.05). Conclusions: Touch-screen videogame training can alleviate behavioural symptoms in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia. Its efficacy to improve cognitive and other related functions warrants further investigation.