Games and Dementia: Evidence Needed

  • Joseph R. FanfarelliEmail author


Dementia is one of public health’s significant problems, affecting millions of people worldwide. Many tools and techniques have been examined for the diagnosis and treatment of dementia. For example, video games have been suggested as potentially useful for integration into standard dementia care. This chapter examines the research surrounding dementia games and other contextual factors that will potentially impact their effectiveness. While some research studies seem to show positive results, they have primarily been low sample size pilot studies or studies that do not assess whether the results transfer to everyday tasks of dementia patients. Other studies have been unable to show benefits of dementia games. Overall, the field is in the early stages of research and currently lacks the research-based evidence required to implement dementia games with confidence. Future studies should engage in large sample size research that assesses the generalizability of results.


Dementia Games Video games Brain games Cognition 


  1. Albanese, E., Liu, Z., Acosta, D., Guerra, M., Huang, Y., Jacob, K. S., … Prince, M. J. (2011). Equity in the delivery of community healthcare to older people: Findings from 10/66 dementia research group cross-sectional surveys in Latin America, China, India and Nigeria. BMC Health Services Research, 11.
  2. Alzheimer’s Disease International. (2016). World Alzheimer report 2016: Improving healthcare for people living with dementia. London: Alzheimer’s Disease International Available online at Scholar
  3. Fenney, A., & Lee, T. D. (2010). Exploring spared capacity in persons with dementia: What Wii can learn. Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 34(4), 303–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fernandez-Calvo, B., Rodriguez-Perez, R., Contador, I., Rubio-Santorum, A., & Ramos, F. (2011). Efficacy of cognitive training programs based on new software technologies in patients with Alzheimer-Type dementia. Psicothema, 23(1), 44–50.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Finn, M., & McDonald, S. (2011). Computerised cognitive training for older persons with mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study using a randomised controlled trial design. Brain Impairment, 12(3), 187–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Huntley, J. D., Gould, R. L., Liu, K., Smith, M., & Howard, R. J. (2015). Do cognitive interventions improve general cognition in dementia? A meta-analysis and meta-regression. BMJ Open, 5.
  7. Legouverneur, G., Pino, M., Boulay, M., & Rigaud, A. (2011). Wii sports, a usability study with MCI and Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 7, S500–S501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McCallum, S., & Boletsis, C. (2013). Dementia games: A literature review of dementia-related serious games. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 8101, 15–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Odenheimer, G., Borson, S., Sanders, A. E., Swain-Eng, R. J., Kyomen, H. H., Tierney, S., … Johnson, J. (2014). Quality improvement in neurology: Dementia management quality measures. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 62(3).
  10. Padala, K. P., Padala, P. R., Malloy, T. R., Geske, J. A., Dubbert, P. M., Dennis, R. A., … Sullivan, D. H. (2012). Wii-fit for improving gait and balance in an assisted living facility: A pilot study. Journal of Aging Research, 2012, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ratner, E., & Atkinson, D. (2015). Why cognitive training and brain games will not prevent or forestall dementia. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 63(12), 2612–2614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Reuter-Lorenz, P. A., & Park, D. C. (2014). How does it STAC up? Revisiting the scaffolding theory of aging and cognition. Neuropsychology Review, 24, 355–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Robert, P. H., König, A., Amieva, H., Andrieu, S., Bremond, F., Bullock, R., … Manera, V. (2014). Recommendations for the use of serious games in people with Alzheimer’s disease, related disorders and frailty. Frontiers in Neuroscience.
  14. Rosen, A.C., Sugiura, L., Kramer, J.H., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., & Gabrieli, J.D. (2011). Cognitive training changes hippocampal function in mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 26, 349–357.Google Scholar
  15. Sitzer, D. I., Twamley, E. W., & Jeste, D. V. (2006). Cognitive training in Alzheimer’s disease: A meta-analysis of the literature. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 114, 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Simons, D.J., Boot, W.R., Charness, N., Gathercole, S.E., Chabris, C.F., Hambrick, D.Z., . . . Stine-Morrow, E.A.L. (2016). Do “brain-training” programs work? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 17(3), 103–186.Google Scholar
  17. Thomas, A., Attems, J., Colloby, S.J., O’Brien, J.T., Keith, I.G., Walker, R., . . . Walker, Z. (2017). Validation by neuropathology of FP-CIT neuroimaging in dementia with Lewy bodies. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 137. Doi:
  18. Tobiasson, H. (2009). Physical action gaming and fun as a tool within elderly care: Game over or play it again and again. Proceedings of the International Ergonomics Association Conference.Google Scholar
  19. Weybright, E., Dattilo, J., & Rusch, F. (2010). Effects of an interactive video game (Nintendo Wii) on older women with mild cognitive impairment. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 44(4), 271–287.Google Scholar
  20. Yamaguchi, H., Maki, Y., & Takahashi, K. (2011). Rehabilitation for dementia using enjoyable video-sports games. International Psychogeriatrics, 23, 674–676.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Visual Arts & DesignUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

Personalised recommendations