“The ‘magic’ table really is a magical thing,” said John Hirsch, who spent a recent afternoon playing Tovertafel games with his family at Lenoir Woods, a Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) Life Plan Community in Columbia, Missouri.
Tovertafel, which means “magic table” in Dutch, is a new technology that uses light projections onto a table to create an immersive and interactive experience that promotes movement, stimulation, and connection for people living with dementia. LSS is the first to offer it as part of their Memory Care services in its Life Plan Communities throughout Missouri and Illinois.
“I would encourage anyone to use it,” said John Hirsch. He and his wife Kathy are both Lenoir Woods residents, and Kathy recently moved from Independent Living to Greenwood, a Memory Care neighborhood in the community. Here they have found that Tovertafel provides an activity everyone can participate in during family visits. John’s daughter, son-in-law, and wife virtually painted pictures of dogs, popped bubbles, and spun tops together. “My wife got engaged in it. Everybody was having fun!” he said.
“Employing new technologies like Tovertafel aligns with the LSS purpose of creating places, services, and opportunities for people to age well with purpose and fulfillment,” said Valerie Cooper, LSS Vice President of Life Plan Communities. “Implementing Tovertafel in our Life Plan Communities underscores the LSS commitment to supporting people and their families on their journey with dementia. We believe that it is important to provide holistic and inclusive environments that focus on strengths and collaboration to recognize and celebrate each person’s value.”
Research has shown that playing with Tovertafel can break through restless and tense behavior, as well as increase positive emotions in people living with dementia. Games are created for a range of cognitive abilities with varying levels of complexity. They respond to even the slightest movement. “It’s hard to believe that there are images floating there and you can just wave your hand and they move, but they do! It’s fun,” said John. “With Alzheimer’s so much is experiential. It doesn’t matter if she remembers it. She is having a good experience and enjoying the moment,” said John.
Kathy and John have also found friendship through playing Tovertafel games with other Greenwood residents. “It’s good for fellowship. People start laughing and trying to pop the bubbles and you are having fun and forming relationships with other people,” he said.
The new technology is turning the heads of seasoned LSS team members, too. “I have never worked with anything like it. It is absolutely incredible,” said 20-year aging services veteran Julie Bayless, Director of Lifestyle Enrichment at Breeze Park, an LSS Life Plan Community in Weldon Spring, Missouri.
Julie has also enjoyed watching families connect through Tovertafel. “The thing I really love about Tovertafel is that it is a way for family members to have a positive visit with their loved one in Memory Care,” she said. “I see great-grandchildren come to visit and play a game with Great-Grandma or Grandpa. It’s a way to make them comfortable in a sometimes-awkward environment that they aren’t used to. Now they can tell people, “Grandma’s got cool things at her house!’”
Christine Shoemaker, Lifestyle Enrichment Guide for Assisted Living and Assisted Living Memory Care at Meramec Bluffs Senior Living, an LSS Life Plan Community in Ballwin, Missouri, has had similar experiences. “I’ve found it especially impactful for residents who are non-verbal and often aren’t able to engage as much.”
Recently, Christine introduced Tovertafel to a resident who is further along in her journey with dementia. “She was able to grab for the light and that was really exciting for her,” said Christine. “She especially liked the butterflies. It was so great to see her connect with the game.”
Beyond Tovertafel, LSS Memory Care neighborhoods offer many resources to help people and their families navigate their journey with dementia. This includes daily routines and opportunities to participate in regular daily tasks as well as activities and programming tailored to keep residents engaged physically, mentally, and spiritually. Residents also receive assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and toileting.
In addition to controlled-access communal living rooms, dining rooms, and activity rooms, many Memory Care areas include secured outdoor patios, porches, and gardens for residents. By providing the opportunity to be with other residents and team members, residents are more socialized and avoid being isolated as compared to living alone at home.
To learn more about LSS Memory Care and Tovertafel, visit LSS First in Region to offer Innovative Technology for Memory Care with Tovertafel | Lutheran Senior Services (lssliving.org)