Best Card Games for Seniors & Elderly (16 Fun, Simple Options)

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Playing cards can provide seniors with socialization and mental stimulations as well as improve hand and finger dexterity. Here are lots of fun card games that senior can play alone or among a group of friends.

seniors playing card games
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Almost everyone likes to play card games and has a memory or two of past games that might have even gotten out of hand.

Older adults are no different! Plus, card games are a great activity for seniors and the elderly because they are a low-impact activity that seniors with limited mobility or health problems can play.

laying cards also stimulates brain function and provides a little physical exercise for their fine motor skills. Plus, the large print on playing cards is often easier to read when compared to other games.

So, what are some fun easy card games for older adults to play? Below I’ve listed games that seniors can play alone or with a group, plus a few suggestions for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Honestly, people of any age can play any of these and have a great time doing it.

Why Should Seniors Play Games?

Games aren’t just a fun way to pass the time.

Playing card games can help improve memory, concentration and cognitive skills, and even prevent or delay the effects of cognitive decline. Simple games can keep seniors with dementia engaged and mentally active.

The social aspects of 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.

Too often, seniors become isolated because of changes in their physical health or the loss of their social groups. But learning new games with family and friends can provide senior citizens with much needed socialization while also exercising their cognitive abilities.

If you or a senior family member enjoys the challenge and bonding that comes with a good card game, you might be asking yourself, “what are some fun card games that I can play with my elderly loved one?”

Below are a few ideas to help you out.

senior playing solitaire (1)
A game of solitaire can prevent boredom and provide mental stimulation for the times that seniors are alone.

Single Player Card Games for Seniors

If you’re looking for a fun, easy-to-play card game that can be enjoyed by seniors or elders, look no further than Solitaire! There are many different Solitaire card games available, each with its own unique rules and gameplay.

Some of the more popular Solitaire card games for seniors include Wish, Klondike, Spider, Freecell, and Pyramid.

All of these games are simple to learn and can be played in short bursts without feeling too tedious. So if you’re looking for a fun way to keep your elderly loved ones entertained while they relax or take a break from their day, Solitaire is definitely an option worth exploring!

Wish Solitaire

To play Wish solitaire, take a standard deck of cards and remove all of the cards that are 6 and under leaving a deck of 32 cards. Next, deal the cards face down into 8 piles (you will have 8 piles of 4 cards).

Turn the top card in each stack face up. Remove any pairs of cards that match regardless of suit then turn the top cards in those stacks face up. The goal is to clear the board by matching cards of the same number until you have no cards remaining.

Klondike Solitaire 

Klondike solitaire is the version of solitaire you probably grew up playing. To play Klondike solitaire, you use a standard 52-card deck and players must build rows of cards from Ace to King, with each card in the row adding to the value of the previous card.

The player with the most valuable stack at the end of the game wins!

The cards are dealt into stacks of cards that continually increase as you move right. You alternate the colors of the cards building stacks until you can clear them to the 4 home positions.

Spider Solitaire

Seniors who get bored with standard solitaire should give spider solitaire a try. This card game is played with 2 decks of cards with a goal to make 8 stacks of cards of each suit in order from ace to king. This adds a much more challenging dimension to classic solitaire.

FreeCell Solitaire

FreeCell solitaire is a bit easier to play than standard solitaire for a few reasons. First, all the cards are dealt face up, so you get to see where all your cards are at once. Also, there are 4 “free cells” at the top of the board where you get to park cards that keep you from making progress in the game.

There are a few extra rules to FreeCell but these rules make the game easier to win too!

Clock Solitaire

This variation of the solitaire card game is more about luck than skill but is still quite fun to play. You start by dealing out a single deck of 52 cards into 13 piles. Place 1 pile in each of the hour positions until the stacks resemble a clock. The thirteenth pile goes in the center of your “clock”.

Starting with the center pile, you turn the top card face up and move it to the corresponding position on your clock. Then, you turn over the card in that position. Repeat until you have (hopefully) turned all your cards face up.

You can see more detailed rules for each of these games at the Bicycle Card website. You can also play many solitaire games online. There are many versions of solitaire that seniors can play on the internet and some are even free.

If you’d like to learn more about some different games that seniors and the elderly can play alone, check out this guide.

dementia playing cards
Seniors with dementia can still enjoy card games too if you choose an appropriate game for their cognitive status.

Simple Card Games for Seniors and Dementia / Alzheimer’s Patients

Here are a few popular card games that are easy to play and learn. Yes, many of these games are played with children, but the games we played as kids are often the best card games for elderly people with dementia because the rules are simple.

Plus, they may remember playing these as a child themselves which could spark a memory!

Snap or SlapJack

Snap is a fairly simple game that is easy to play, even if your senior has problems with their memory or concentration. Playing Snap may even help them with these issues.

Snap 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.

Crazy Eights

Crazy eights is a fun, simple game that can be played with 2 – 7 players, but if you have more than 5 players, you’ll need 2 decks of cards.

Each player gets dealt 8 cards (or 7 if you only have 2 players) and the rest of the deck is set face down on the table. The first card on the deck is turned upward, and players discard their cards by matching theirs with the suit or rank of the top card on the deck. If you can’t match the card, you draw from the deck until you can.

The object of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards. You can also play an 8 card at any time (hence the name) and declare what suit you’d like the next player to match.

Old Maid

This is another simple card game dating back to the Victorian age.

If you’re playing with a standard deck, remove one of the cards so that its pair is “unmatchable.” The point of the game is to get as many pairs of cards in your hand as possible, and not be stuck with the unmatched “old maid” card at the end. Due to the name, the most common card to discard is a queen.

The way it works is you deal out all the cards starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Players then go through their cards and place any pairs they have (by rank) face up.

Then, starting with the dealer, each player offers the player to the left of them their hand face down, and that player draws a card of their choice and adds it to their deck.

If it makes a pair in their hand, they place it face down with their others. The process continues until one person is stuck with the unmatchable card.

Go Fish

Go Fish is a fun card game that many people remember from their childhood. The goal of this simple card game is to pair up cards in your hand and be the first person to use all your cards.

If you don’t have any matches in the remaining cards in your hand, you can ask another player for it. If they don’t have it, you draw another card from the deck adding the number of cards in your hand.

This great game is also a memory exercise of sorts because remembering what cards other players have asked for is part of the strategy. Matching skills are also exercised when playing Go Fish.

Learn more about the best games for seniors with dementia here.

playing cards with senior friends
The social and mood-lifting benefits of a good card game cannot be underestimated.

More Challenging Group Card Games for Seniors

These fun card games are a bit more difficult than the ones above but they are some of the best ways for seniors to spend quality time with family or socialize with their peer group.

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). Cards can be drawn from the deck or from the discard pile.

The point of the game is to run out of cards, 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.

Bridge

There are many varieties of bridge, so it can be adapted to your seniors’ preferences or even to their limitations if needed. In the basic version of bridge, players work in teams and the objective 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 and highly competitive.

Poker

If your seniors prefer a game that’s more about strategy, luck, and lying, 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 deals out the cards and each of them are 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, or get 21 points with the initial two cards given to them, to win the game.

This is another game that can 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.

Cribbage is played with 2 to 4 players. The rules and procedures change depending on how many people are involved, but 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 it is in certain combinations.

This is another game that can involve some betting, just to add some stakes to the game.

Canasta

Canasta was very popular during the 1950’s, which makes it perfect for seniors as they’ve probably played before. It is usually played with an even number of players with two players acting as partners.

The main goal is to try to collect 3 or more cards of the same rank. These are called melds. 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 with 2-4 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.

two elderly ladies enjoying a large print game
Game play of any kind really can be socially, mentally, and physically beneficial for seniors and the elderly.

Other Games Ideas for Older People

Card games are an excellent way for seniors to exercise their brains while having fun. But they aren’t the only way!

Here are some other ways that older adults can improve cognitive function, fine motor skills, and even mental health while playing a fun game.

Word Games and Word Puzzles

Word games and word puzzles are great ways to keep seniors entertained and mentally active. Some of the best word games for seniors include crosswords, anagrams, and scrabble. These games can be enjoyed either individually or in groups, making them perfect for any occasion.

You can even provide a senior you love with a monthly delivery of puzzle books to their home via this puzzle book subscription service.

Jigsaw Puzzles

There are many different types of puzzles that can be enjoyed by seniors, including jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles can be a great way for seniors to keep their minds active and engaged, and they can also provide some fun and relaxation.

Some of the best jigsaw puzzles for seniors include those that are challenging but still manageable, as well as those that are simple but provide a lot of enjoyment. Many seniors find large piece jigsaw puzzles easier to work.

Board Games

There are many great board games for seniors that can be enjoyed together. Some of the best choices include: Monopoly, Clue, Sorry!, Scrabble, and Yahtzee. These games are easy to learn and can be enjoyed by everyone in the family.

I have a separate guide to board games for seniors that you can read by clicking here.

Video Games

Video games are a great way for seniors to stay active and entertained. There are many different types of video games that seniors can enjoy, from action and adventure games to puzzle games.

Some of the best video games for seniors include Mario Party 10, The Sims 4, Wii Sports, and Animal Crossing. These games are easy to play, offer a lot of content, and are popular with both adults and children.

Final Thoughts

As people get older, they can also get more isolated as friends and family members who once gave them the social activity they needed become unavailable. Seniors may also lose interest in many of the activities that once gave them social connections and fulfillment. This creates a vicious cycle, further decreasing their opportunities for social contact.

If they want to stay happy, healthy and get all of the benefits that social contact can bring to their lives, seniors must find other ways to connect. Getting involved in easy card games or even board games, and groups that play them, are a great way to find those kinds of bonds and have fun while doing it!

Do you have another card game that is fun to play with seniors? If so, please let me know in the comments below!

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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1 thought on “Best Card Games for Seniors & Elderly (16 Fun, Simple Options)”

  1. Good article. I am looking for a game to play with fairly low functioning seniors for after BINGO and TRIVIA. I would love it to be with regular cards from two decks. Has to be pretty remedial for a group of about 12. Nothing too complicated or they bail on us. If you can think of anything new…. thanks

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