Meaningful Play 2016 at Michigan State University

Poster Information

TitlePlay in Nursing Home Residents
Presenter(s)Leah Mancini and Doug Maynard
SessionConference Reception, Game Exhibition, and Poster Session
TimeThursday, October 20, 7:00p-10:00p
LocationMSU Union Ballroom
FormatPoster Presentation
DescriptionAdults over the age of sixty five are the quickest growing population in the United States. With age comes geriatric concerns including coping with loss, decreased independence, depression, anxiety, and lack of relatedness. Older adults who have strong mental health and adaptive coping mechanisms are more likely to live full, meaningful lives despite these challenges. Play is an topic of study in developmental psychology, but research on the role of play in adulthood, especially late adulthood, has been limited. Promising preliminary research has suggested that adult play yields increased positive affect, improved relatedness, and reduced stress. The psychological benefits of play in children have been exemplified through child-centered play therapy, but have also shown possible benefits in the elderly. In a case study of elderly-centered play therapy, participants became less depressed, less isolated, more active, and behaved in more socially appropriate ways. In the current study, we are exploring the phenomenon of play in the elderly, more specifically nursing home residents. We interviewed 15 nursing home residents to help understand how they have experienced play through their lives, and how their relationship with play has shifted since coming to the nursing home, and why. The interview data are being analyzed using a grounded theory approach, with the intent of developing a new model of play in the context of a nursing home. Data collection is ongoing and will be complete by August 2016. We used initial interviews with participants to identify main themes and new questions, and are now conducting follow-up interviews with those same participants to more deeply explore those questions. Emerging themes which will be further explored through follow-up interviews include barriers to play experienced by the elderly, the ability of elderly to change the way they play, and play as a coping mechanism. For example, the nursing home residents may have a need to play, but are experiencing barriers that come with aging, including physical limitations (e.g., breathing tubes, wheelchairs, and general lack of mobility) and social ones (e.g., isolation, and difficulty communicating due to loss of speech, hearing loss, and dementia). As research continues, how residents respond to these barriers barriers to play and other emerging themes will be more fully analyzed, leading to a better understanding of play in nursing home residents.

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