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fun simple card games for seniors and elderly

Fun and Simple Card Games for Seniors

Almost everyone likes to play card games. But everyone likes to win! No matter how non-competitive people tell you they are, get them playing some kind of game and suddenly they’re determined to win. For seniors who have arthritis, mobility concerns, or just aren’t interested in certain types of games, playing cards is a fun and challenging option. Here are some fun and simple card games for seniors.

Why Should Seniors Play Games?

Games aren’t just a fun way to pass the time. Playing card games can help to improve memory and concentration, and even prevent or delay the effects of Alzheimer’s. Gathering for card games can also give seniors a much needed social outlet. Groups who gather regularly give participants a sense of community and belonging, which improves health and well-being. It’s even more important for seniors to actively seek out these kinds of social connections. Too often, they become too isolated because of changes in their physical health or the loss of their social groups.

If you or your senior family member enjoys the challenge and the interactions that come about because of games, here are several great card games to try.

simple card games for seniors

Fun and Simple Games to Play with Seniors

Here are a few games that are easy to play and easy to learn also.

Snap

Snap is a fairly simple game that is easy to play if your senior has problems with their memory or concentration. Playing Snap may even help them with these issues. It can be played with any deck of cards laying around the house. The cards are split between the players who turn them over in a pile in the center. If two cards are put down that are the same number or color, the players race to slam their hands down on it to get the entire pile. The player with the most cards at the end wins. Just a word of warning here, be careful when you slam your hands down or someone could get hurt.

Rummy

Gin Rummy can be played with 2-6 players. It involves drawing and discarding cards trying to get either a meld (3 cards of the same rank) or a run (which is 3 or more cards of one suit in sequence). The point of the game is to empty your hands, with all the cards put down in melds or runs, in combinations that make higher points than your opponent has. Rummy has a number of variations, including Gin Rummy and is a very popular game among the older generations. You can learn the complete rules and different game variations of rummy here.

group card games to play with seniors

More Challenging Group Card Games for Seniors

These card games are a bit more difficult but are wonderful choices for seniors to socialize as a group.

Bridge

There are many varieties of bridge so it can be adapted to your seniors’ preferences or even to their limitations. In the basic version of bridge, players work in teams and the object of the game is to put down the highest card in the relevant suit. There are a number of complicated rules to this game, and it may take beginners some time to understand, but once they do it can be fun as well as highly competitive.

Poker

If your seniors prefer a game that’s more about strategy, luck and lying, than poker may be what they’re looking for. In poker, the cards themselves are almost less important than the ability to read other peoples’ reactions, strategize and bluff your way to victory. There are also lots of variations and additional rules that can be put into place if your senior wants to add interest to the game. Even better, poker requires betting, and if you play for money, it can be a very rewarding way to spend an evening.

Blackjack

Blackjack is a fairly simple game that almost everyone knows. The dealer gives out the cards each of them worth a certain number of points. The players try to get the points of the cards in their hand as close as possible to 21 without going over. They need to get closer to 21 than the dealer does, or get 21 points with the initial two cards given to them, to win the game. This is another game that should involve some betting, just to add some stakes to the game.

Cribbage

Cribbage is a very complex game that requires a game board as well as playing cards. This game could be out of reach if your senior has problems with their memory or ability to concentrate. It can be played with 2-4 people. The rules and procedures change depending on how many people are involved. The point of the game is to get 121 points. The score is kept by pegs which are put into the game board. Each card gets a certain number of points alone and even more points when in certain combinations.

Canasta

Canasta was very popular during the 1950’s, which probably makes it perfect for seniors. It is usually played with an even number of players with two players acting as a partners. The main goal is to try to collect three or more cards of the same rank. These are called melds and each meld gives the player a certain number of points. When the game ends, the partners with the most points are the winners. There are different versions of this game, and it can be played with only two players, but canasta is more fun and challenging in teams. This game not only encourages teamwork, it also involves strategic thinking and scoring, and can be a good way to create close bonds as well as some friendly rivalry.

Pinochle

Pinochle requires a special deck of 48 cards, or one that has the irrelevant cards removed. This game can be played by two to four players. In Pinochle, each card has a certain value and the point of the game is to create combinations of cards that get the highest number of points. This game can be fast paced and requires that one of the participants keeps score of the points accrued during each round. Best of all, most seniors will probably know this game and won’t have to learn a new procedure and set of rules before enjoying it.

jumbo print playing cards

Challenges Seniors Have When Playing Cards

There are various reasons why seniors, who once loved playing card games, no longer shows interests. A few common reasons are:

  • Vision problems - they cannot clearly see the cards any longer and are afraid of making a mistake
  • Arthritic hands - grasping small cards for long periods of time cause inflamed joints to ache

Arthritic Hands

For some seniors, grasping a handful of cards hurts. Swollen arthritic joints hurt even more when trying to grip small, slick playing cards. But, there are tools available for these folks so that they can continue playing the games they love.

Playing Card Holders for Seniors

A great tool for helping seniors play card games without having to hold onto a handful of cards are playing card holders. There are different designs and styles but they all basically have a slot where the cards are inserted and held for the user. Curved designs allow the senior to see all their cards without other players looking at them.​

14" Curved Shape Wooden Card Holders Set of Two, Natural Finish
  • Display your cards while freeing your hands
  • Each holder measures 13" long x 1 1/2" high. Playing cards not included
  • Made in China
  • Toy
  • Getting Fit
Ableware 15" Playing Card Holder
  • Clear plastic playing card holder for individuals with pain in and/or limited use of hands (cards...
  • Slot for ease of adding or removing cards
  • Extended front to place pencils and small coins
  • Versatile for holding Mah-Jongg tiles, recipes, or memos
  • Measures 15.0" (L)

Last update on 2017-08-24 at 01:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Automatic Card Shufflers

Some seniors also lose the dexterity in their hands needed to shuffle cards. Arthritis and hand weakness are common causes for this. An automatic card shuffling machine like the one below is a huge help with this.

Casino 6-Deck Automatic Card Shuffler
  • For all standard size cards
  • Shuffles six decks of cards in seconds
  • Battery operated
  • Batteries not included
  • Cards not included

Last update on 2017-08-23 at 19:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Vision Problems

It is no secret that declining vision affects many seniors and elderly people. There are many causes for this from natural aging to cataracts to macular degeneration. Fortunately, there are great options available to seniors with failing vision to get them playing cards again. As a matter of fact there are a lot of games that are now available in large print editions - even large print adult coloring books!

Jumbo Playing Cards

Larger sized playing cards serve two purposes: they are easier to hold onto AND they are easier to see. This makes them ideal for use when playing card games with seniors and elderly. These cards are 2 inches wide and 2-1/2 inches taller than standard playing cards.

Giant 5 x 7 Inch Playing Cards (2 Pack)
  • These fun, giant playing cards will be the hit of your next casino party
  • Standard 54 card deck
  • Size 5" x 7"
  • Enjoy hours of fun

Last update on 2017-08-23 at 19:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Large Print Playing Cards

For seniors who less significant vision loss, playing cards with larger printing are useful. These cards are standard sized but the numbers and suits are larger print. This makes them easier to see when fanned out.

Bicycle Jumbo Index Playing Cards - 6 Decks
  • 6 decks included, 3 red and 3 blue
  • Bicycle brand of playing cards
  • Perfect for poker of other casino games

Last update on 2017-08-23 at 19:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final Thoughts

As people get older, they can also get more isolated as friends and family members who once gave them the social contact they needed become unavailable. Seniors may also lose interest in many of the activities that once gave them social connections. This further decreases their opportunities for social contact. If they want to stay happy, healthy, and get all of the benefits social contact can bring to their lives, seniors must find other ways to connect. Getting involved in card games, and groups that play them, are a great way to search for and find those kinds of bonds.

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