According to the World Health Organization (WHO) research, 1 in 6 people worldwide will be 60 years or older by 2030. With age comes the risk of dementia and loss of considerable brain skills, such as coordination, memory, and social awareness. These conditions not only have negative physical and mental impacts but can also negatively impact one’s friends and family.
The research* has revealed that occupational therapy can help stimulate and train impaired cognitive abilities in the elderly. Proper play can create a sense of involvement in playing or playing with challenges, makes the elderly feel positive emotions such as fun, pride, and humor, and strengthens the mental relationship with the family, resulting in the elderly can deal with their life-changed situation. However, there is still a lack of devices designed and developed specifically for the elderly that can
- ● Stimulate and train specific brain abilities
- ● Create playful feelings and positive emotions
- ● Strengthen mental relationships with family
With the mission for the better world through play and witnessing the impact of aging on society for decades, PlanToys began to research and design playsets in 2020 to help the elderly to have a better quality of life. In 2021, PlanToys collaborated with MTEC**, NSTDA*** to start the Better Aging project with Dr. Sittha Sukkasi, who has a Ph.D. in design from MIT**** and extensive experience in product development for older adults. There were three main areas of focus that the team designed toward
- ● Stimulation and Training of Specific Cognitive Domains
- ● Play Sensation
- ● Positive Emotion
During the design process, we applied theories and principles that are cognizant of the needs of the elderly to ensure positive contributions to their brain development. Through play, our products benefit the following
- ● sensory stimulation for agitation reduction
- ● memory and dementia brain degradation
- ● occupational therapy for cognitive stimulation, training, and rehabilitation
- ● play sensations
- ● self, including self-efficacy, competence, and self-determination
- ● connectedness
Throughout the project, our research and design process created a total of 60 new ideas. We tested, developed and refined them into 8 products to offer in the Better Aging collection.
* Hoppes S, Wilcox T, Graham G. Meanings of play for older adults. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics.
2001 Jan 1;18(3):57-68.
** MTEC - Thailand National Metal and Materials Technology Center
*** NSTDA - The National Science and Technology Development Agency
**** MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology