How games can help elderly fight dementia

March 11, 2019 10:18
Sea Hero Quest, developed by British firm Glitchers in  2016, is a game designed to help the global research of dementia. Photo:

Official data shows that five to eight out of every 100 people above 65 are suffering from dementia in Hong Kong. Nearly 20 to 30 percent of those above 80 are dementia patients.

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person's daily life and activities. It’s a common disease among old people.

The public has become increasingly aware of dementia in recent years.

There is no effective way to cure the disease yet. But medications can be used to slow down dementia progression if patients are diagnosed at an early stage.

In many cases, the elderly may have not noticed they are ill until things become worse.

Is there a way to effectively monitor dementia symptoms, prevent and treat the patients? Gaming might be a good option.

Games reward players with the feeling of achievement when they successfully advance to the next level, or win some virtual prizes in the game. This sort of incentive makes gaming rather addictive. Such features can be harnessed in the fight against dementia.

Sea Hero Quest is a game designed to help the global research of dementia. It was created by British game company Glitchers in 2016 in association with various research institutions.

The game has attracted over 4 million players so far, making it the largest research program on dementia in the history.

It is believed that the Chinese traditional game of mahjong can also help elderly enhance their memory and keep their minds sharp. Mobile mahjong games may thus help fight the disease, too.

Several Asian societies will face aging population in next two decades. Some governments are getting ready for fighting dementia.

For example, Singapore and South Korea have built communities that are friendly to dementia patients, and offer many games to entertain them and help treat their disease.

In the future, AI and big data technologies may also be combined with games to monitor the elderly for early detection and treatment.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 8

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Information Technology Federation Chairman