Magic Table

Author: Hester Anderiesen-Le Riche

Games that are always a success

After a long day at work, you somehow force yourself to go to the gym for some valuable exercise. Our sense of ‘get-up-and-go’ (thankfully) often has the upper-hand over our passive inclinations. But this does not hold true for elderly people suffering from dementia: their ability to take the initiative disappears in the early stages of the illness. Simple activities like getting up to make a cup of coffee, opening a newspaper or starting a conversation become an enormous struggle. And this results in a dreadful vicious cycle: unused muscles and joints become stiff, and a brain that does not do anything deteriorates even more rapidly. With her innovative design, Hester Anderiesen Le Riche – PhD candidate at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) – helps elderly people to break out of this cycle.

Hester Anderiesen Le Riche had always been passionate about health and exercise. During her graduation project at the faculty of IDE, she met neuropsychologist Erik Scherder. He told her how important it is for people with dementia to exercise, and why those with dementia become passive so rapidly. The question soon followed of whether Hester could put her designer’s brain towards developing a solution. Something to help people with dementia to escape this passivity. ‘That matched perfectly with my personal field of interest: that of offering people for whom physical activity is no longer a matter of course the opportunity to reap the benefits of exercise’, Hester explains enthusiastically via Skype from her home in Cape Town. ‘And within an hour, we had decided to take the issue and build it into a doctoral research project’. On 24 April, Hester will defend her dissertation entitled Playful design for Activation at TU Delft.

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