Symposium - Ageing Playfully: Play and Games for Ageing Wellbeing

30 June 2021, 2:00 pm–4:00 pm

man playing large chess

This symposium opens a creative forum where we discuss the place of play and games in old age from diverse disciplinary perspectives.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Moise Roche

Games and play are important aspects of older adult lives but have not received much attention in health and research. In the West, play and games are often seen as ‘mere frivolity’. However, recent scholarship argues that such activities are ‘serious’ contribution to ageing well. UCL’s Grand Challenges Special Initiative panel has funded the ‘Ageing Playfully’ project led by Dr Carrie Ryan (Anthropology) and Professor Paul Higgs (Psychiatry). This project will take playful ageing seriously and convene researchers, non-profit organisations, and corporate actors to discuss and develop interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches analysing the place of play and games in ageing health. ‘Ageing Playfully’ challenges ageist perceptions of older adults, and instead calls attention to how older adults remain playful, inventive, creative, dynamic, and lively as they age.

This symposium congregates interested parties to discuss the place of play and games in old age from diverse disciplinary perspectives in order to share ideas and build collaborations about ageing playfully well.

This event is free to attend and will be delivered online via Zoom. Joining instructions will be communicated at least 2 days before the date of the event to attendees who have registered.

Find below the programme of the event and information about the speakers.


14:00 Welcome & Opening Remarks

Chair: Prof Paul Higgs

14:05 Introduction & Context

Prof Jay Sokolovsky

14:15 Playful Objects for the Last Stage of Life

Prof Cathy Treadaway

14:30 Ageing Playfully: Reclaiming our Right to Play

Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves

14:45 Game Playing as an Effective Learning Resource to Support the Inclusive Ageing Built Environment Development

Prof Hua Zhong

15:00 BREAK

15:05 In Defence of Bingo: Thinking Differently about Ageing Wellbeing

Dr Carrie H. Ryan

15:20 Online gaming and well-being in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Ms Pamela Almeida-Meza

15:35 Q & A Panel Discussion

15:55 Closing Remarks

Prof Paul Higgs & Dr Carrie H. Ryan

About the Speakers

Paul Higgs

Paul Higgs is Professor of the Sociology of Ageing at UCL. He has a degree in Sociology and a PhD in Social Policy. Professor Higgs edits the journal Social Theory and Health and has published widely in social gerontology and medical sociology. He has been involved in researching the social effects of dementia through two UK government funded projects MARQUE and PRIDE and is currently involved in APPLE-tree. He is also a collaborator on the EU funded INDUCT and DISTINCT international training networks examining the role of technology in dementia. He is a Fellow of both the UK Academy of Social Sciences and the Gerontological Society of America.

Jay Sokolovsky

Professor Jay Sokolovsky is passionate about making anthropology count. His research interests range from the anthropology of aging to globalization of indigenous Mexico and video documentation. Much of his career has been spent demonstrating the importance of anthropology in dealing with health issues related to homelessness, schizophrenia, dementia and chronic diseases. Professor Sokolovsky has also used anthropology to help indigenous Mexican villages cope with globalization and created a documentary about the fight to preserve New York City community gardens, ‘Urban Garden: Fighting for Life and Beauty’.

Hua Zhong

Professor Hua Zhong is a Senior Lecturer and Chartered Engineer with expertise in building engineering services subject area. Hua has led many sustainable built environment design and assessment projects with both industrial and academic partners. Her current research projects are funded by the Swedish Energy Agency, HEFCE & DEFRA, British Council and STFC.

Cathy Treadaway

Cathy Treadaway is Professor of Creative Practice at Cardiff School of Art and Design, Cardiff Metropolitan University. She was Principal Investigator for the LAUGH project, a three-year AHRC funded international research project, investigating the development of playful objects to improve the quality of life of people living with advanced dementia. She is currently the Academic Lead on LAUGH EMPOWERED, funded by Welsh Government in partnership with NHS and Sunrise Senior Living, which is developing innovative playful products for people living with dementia and cognitive impairment. Professor Treadaway is also Research Director of HUG by LAUGH, a company set up to commercialise outputs from the research in partnership with Alzheimer's Society. Her current work has evolved from earlier creativity research leading to investigations into the impact of playfulness on health and wellbeing, and the vital role of sensory perception and specifically 'touch', in developing positive playful experiences.

Emmanuel Tsekleves

Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves research is driven by life’s mission to show there is always an alternative way of doing things, so that together we can change our world. Driven by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, his research focuses on tackling community health challenges across the world. He employs playful and creative approaches to tackling challenges and developing community-based interventions. Dr Tsekleves is based at ImaginationLancaster, a design-led research lab, at Lancaster University and is the co-director of the Future Cities Research Institute between the Universities of Lancaster and Sunway, in Malaysia. http://imagination.lancaster.ac.uk/person/emmanuel-tsekleves/

Carrie Ryan

Dr Carrie Ryan is a Lecturer (Teaching) in Biosocial Medical Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at UCL. She is the Co-Principal Investigator on the UCL Grand Challenges Project 'Ageing Playfully: Play and Games for Ageing Wellbeing' alongside Professor Paul Higgs. Broadly, Dr Ryan's research examines the impact of artful, playful, and ritual engagement on older adult wellbeing. Her research is inspired by her over ten years of work experience as an Activities Coordinator in nursing homes and retirement communities in the United States.

Pamela Almeida-Meza

Ms Pamela Almeida-Meza is a Psychobiology Doctoral student at UCL's Department of Behavioural Science and Health, funded by Alzheimer's Society. Her research focuses on cognitive reserve and dementia in the UK. After obtaining a degree in Clinical Psychology at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (2016), Ms Almeida-Meza studied an MSc in Health Psychology at UCL (2018). The results from her MSc dissertation led to her PhD project, which aims to investigate cognitive reserve and dementia in various cohorts in the UK.