Board games are not just fun but provides an opportunity to learn and exercises the brain. Games are therefore not just a good way for seniors to pass the time and keep them entertained but can help with cognitive problems that develop as we age.
When choosing board games for seniors, it is important to take into account the physical or mental limitations that aging, illness or a disability may have caused.
- Seniors with vision problems will benefit from games that have larger print which is easier to read.
- Games with larger pieces are easier for seniors with arthritis or motor dysfunctions to handle and use.
- Quick games that last less than 30 minutes are ideal for seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other cognitive degenerative conditions.
Below are some ideas for board games (and games in general) that are both entertaining and helpful for the elderly:
1. Playing Cards
While this isn’t actually a board game, a deck of cards is always good to have lying around. You can choose to play simple card games with seniors that last only a few minutes like Snap or Go Fish or longer, more complicated games like Bridge or Cannasta. The type of game you choose will be largely dependent on the challenges that the senior faces.
There are a wide range of playing cards available in either larger print or jumbo size. Larger print is easier to read for seniors and bigger cards are easier to handle.
2. After Dinner Amusements
Once again, not exactly a board game, After Dinner Amusements offers the opportunity to get to know someone better while improving memory. The different games consist of a deck of 50 cards with questions that you can ask one another.
“Can Your Remember?” is the ideal box set for seniors who are struggling with their memory. “How Well Do You Know Me?” also exercises memory while allowing caregivers to get to know their charge better. “Family Time” is ideal to strengthen the bond with a senior loved one while having a good laugh.
3. Bananagrams And Scrabble
Banangrams is similar to Scrabble where you pick tiles and make as many words as possible horizontally and vertically – except there is no complicated scoring system. The person who gets rid of all their tiles first shouts “Bananas” and is the winner.
A Big Letter version of the game is available for the visually impaired and is ideal for seniors. Word games have been proven to improve cognition. The bonus is that the game can be played alone (solitaire) or with 1 or more people.
If your senior prefers the additional challenge of scoring and playing the word game on an actual board, Scrabble is ideal. Large Scrabble tiles are also available.
4. Ticket To Ride
Ticket To Ride sets you off on an adventure across North America visiting different cities and towns with objectives and missions to complete along the way.
On average, a game lasts between 30 and 60 minutes which makes it ideal for seniors who can become distracted quickly or have memory issues. The game gives seniors the opportunity to work their memory of trips they have taken in the past and their own experiences of the various locations.
Hive is unique in that it combines different types of games and allows you to create the board as you play. The object of the game is to surround your opponents queen.
The game is simple and straightforward but the puzzling nature of the game is great for the brain. Beware, this game is very addictive and will keep seniors occupied for hours on end.
Monopoly is one of the oldest and favorite board games in existence. The goal of the game is to monopolize the board by buying properties and building houses and hotels until your opponents go broke.
The game can be a little complicated and the pieces a touch fiddly. Game play should last around an hour but can take much longer. The game is great for seniors who want to practice their problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Other versions from different parts of the world or the U.S. are also available. Seniors might enjoy playing the game more with street names that they recognize.
7. Trivial Pursuit
Trivial Pursuit is another one of the mainstays when it comes to board games and test your general knowledge on a variety of different subjects. The object of the game is to fill a pie with 6 colored wedges and then answer a question to win.
The game can be quite lengthy but you can speed it up by adding wedges for each question that is answered correctly instead of just on the wedge squares. It may also be a good idea to opt for the Genus Edition – contrary to popular belief, it isn’t for geniuses but rather a historical version of the game that have questions which could be more relevant to seniors.
The goal of Chronology is to arrange 10 cards in chronological order as they occurred in history. A seniors knowledge of history and having been there when some of the events occurred gives them an advantage in this game. It is a great confidence booster and works the brain and memory while playing.
Unfortunately, the game is not available as a large print game for seniors with vision problems. However, the dates and other information are already in a larger font which should be easy for seniors with vision problems to read.
Cranium is basically the upgraded version of chirades and will have you humming, drawing and even sculpting to solve puzzles. Puzzle solving games have been proven to be great for the brain and for improving memory and recall. Cranium also offers plenty of fun.
Mahjong is an ancient Chinese games that basically consists of matching the same tiles and beating an opponent. However, the game is actually all about strategy. It can also be played alone and large versions of the game tiles are available for visually impaired seniors. Larger tiles are also easier to handle for seniors who have arthritis or problems with fine motor skills and coordination.
Dominoes is another one of those games that never seem to go out of fashion. The easy matching game also includes loads of strategy which will work that brain. The two-player or more player game can become quite competitive as you try to beat each other. Larger dominoes are available to suit visually challenged seniors and to ensure that they tiles are easier to handle.
Yahtzee is a game of chance combined with strategy. This is the ideal dicing game for seniors and is not complicated nor does it take too long to play. It is recommended to opt for a box set that includes larger dice or simply swap the dice out for bigger ones that are easier to see.
Qwirkle is a puzzle game with a good dash of strategy and involves matching tiles of the same color or shape to beat one or more opponents. This is a quick game and takes about 30 minutes to complete on average. Puzzle games have been proven to exercise the brain and improve cognition as well as memory. Qwirkle also helps to enhance problem-solving and decision-making skills.
14. Call to Mind
Call to Mind is a board game that has been specifically designed for people suffering from dementia. The idea of the game is to open the lines of communication in order to get to know a patient who has dementia better. It helps reveal their likes and dislikes as well as other information.
RELATED: Games for Dementia or Alzheimer’s
15. Connect 4
Connect 4 is based on tic-tac-toe (naughts and crosses) and involves dropping colored discs into an upright tray in order to get 4 of the same color in a row. This is a strategy game that exercises the brain. Strategy games have been found to be beneficial for seniors who have metal health condittions like dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
16. Shake Loose A Memory
This another game that has been specifically designed for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The idea of the game is to get the senior to remember certain normal events in everyday life and create a conversation about those events to get to know the patient better and to improve memory and recall. For example, you are asked to keep a card if you have ever jumped into a pile of leaves and whether you remember raking them up.
Board games can be greatly beneficial for seniors to exercise the brain and improve memory plus other cognitive functions. However, the greatest benefit of board games is that they are interactive and allow a senior to communicate and socialize with family, friends or caregivers to prevent them from feeling alone and isolated.
What’s your favorite board game to play? If you’ve found a one that works particularly well for your loved ones who are seniors, please share below! I’d love to hear about your experience.