Tovertafel - Play Therapy

How carers can use play to benefit seniors with dementia during lockdown


As we all have had to deal with changing conditions and limitations in our lives during lockdowns, healthcare professional working in elderly care, undoubtedly have to deal with navigating the balance between maintaining the mental and physical well-being of their residents.


The desire to keep challenging your residents physically but at the same time protect their health by closing the doors to outside visitors.


And what about mental wellbeing?

How do you keep residents healthy, both mentally and physically, when resources and social stimulants are scarce?


Seniors interacting with the Tovertafel


Play therapy, in particular, is increasingly viewed as a very good method for engaging patients with dementia and other cognitive disorders. The power of play can help with two important factors:

  • Keeping residents active
  • Stimulating social interaction between residents


Did you know that 90 percent of residents suffer from apathy in care institutions? During lockdown these problems are only exacerbated. Research has shown that for patients with early- to late-stage dementia, playing interactive games can be extremely helpful and effective.


Play can cut through apathy and boost social contact and satisfaction while reducing frustration, anxiety and sadness. Below, is a brief explanation of how this is effective.


People interacting and having fun with Tovertafel

The element of surprise

We found that the element of the unexpected was a powerful mechanism when we co-developed the Tovertafel (which means “Magic Table” in Dutch)”, Hester Anderiesen Le Riche says.


In 2015, Hester co-created Tovertafel during her PHD, together with patients living with dementia, their families, and caregivers.

Hester says: “We discovered that interactive light games can even help residents who are normally really withdrawn. Carers are sometimes amazed by what their residents can still do when they see the reactions to our games.”


For patients in the later stages of dementia, it’s crucial to focus on elements in the game that they can still enjoy.

Hester explains: “Sensory stimulation through light and sound, relaxation and reminiscence are game components that people in the later stages of dementia can still experience. In our game design, we take that into account.”


Games specifically designed for dementia

The stimulation and opportunities for social engagement provided by group play are invaluable at times where loneliness is widespread.


In these hard times, where visits and interaction from loved ones is restricted, caregivers can use the power of play to maintain quality of life for their residents.


Tovertafel short video


Would you like to know more about Tovertafel and our games specifically designed for seniors living with dementia?

Take a look at our website or contact us for more information.


Alternatively, please email [email protected] to organise a consultation or demonstration.


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