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This is Me: Evaluation of a boardgame to promote social engagement, wellbeing and agency in people with dementia through mindful life-storytelling

Niedderer, K ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8188-6338, Holthoff-Detto, V, van Rompay, TJL, Karahanoğlu, A, Ludden, GDS, Almeida, R, Durán, RL, Aguado, YB, Lim, JNW, Smith, T, Harrison, D, Craven, MP, Gosling, J, Orton, L ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5006-2806 and Tournier, I ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0403-4876 (2022) This is Me: Evaluation of a boardgame to promote social engagement, wellbeing and agency in people with dementia through mindful life-storytelling. Journal of Aging Studies, 60. p. 100995. ISSN 0890-4065

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Abstract

Receiving a dementia diagnosis is a difficult experience for most people and often affects their wellbeing negatively. To support people's wellbeing, in a therapeutic context, life-storytelling, reminiscence and mindfulness are used with people with dementia. In an everyday context, traditional games are used as a resource for stimulating memory, cognition and social activity. While an increasing number of creative strategies are available to support people with dementia, the area of board games design and their effect on wellbeing is underexplored. This paper reports on the evaluation of the This is Me (TIM) mindful life-storytelling board game by the European project MinD. Using a co-design methodology, TIM was developed with and for people with mild to moderate dementia to support their wellbeing by enhancing self-empowerment and social engagement. A focus group methodology was used to evaluate TIM with 50 people with dementia and 19 carers across four countries. TIM was evaluated with regard to the usability and experience of the design as well as people's emotional wellbeing, social engagement and agency. The thematic analysis demonstrated that the combination of life-storytelling and mindfulness allowed players to engage in meaningful social interaction and, as a result, they reported enjoyment, learning, more acceptance of the past and present situation, and that they perceived looking forward into the future together with others as helpful. The study demonstrates that design can be a useful means to support people with dementia in aspects of emotional wellbeing, social engagement and a sense of agency.

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