25 Best Activities and Games for Seniors with Dementia

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

A dementia diagnosis does not have to be the end of good times. The following games for seniors with dementia were chosen to be fun but also challenging… without causing frustration.

games for seniors with dementia

A dementia diagnosis does not have to be the end of good times. The following games for seniors with dementia were chosen to be fun but also challenging… without causing frustration.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors.
I may earn a commission on items purchased from affiliate links in this guide. Learn More.

We all know that the challenges associated with dementia – problems with memory, language skills, and cognitive decline – can lead to a decrease in the activity of our senior loved ones.

However, there are many things seniors with dementia can still enjoy doing! One crucial step is finding activities and games that they enjoy playing, which will help them get enjoyment out of life!

What Types of Games Are Good for Seniors with Dementia?

There are many types of games that are good for seniors with dementia. Some of the best include board games, card games, puzzles, and even video games.

Board games can be a fun way to keep seniors engaged. Card and video games can also be very entertaining for seniors with dementia while keeping them mentally stimulated.

For seniors who prefer solitary games, puzzles can be an excellent way for seniors to exercise their minds and hands.

I’ll show you some specific examples for each type later in this article.

Are There Games That Seniors With Dementia Should Avoid?

There are a few games that seniors with dementia should avoid, as these can be potentially confusing and frustrating for them, depending on their cognitive abilities.

These include games that require quick response times, such as those where players must answer questions quickly or make quick decisions.

Some games involving physical activity, such as running or dancing, may be too strenuous for someone with dementia. Think Twister!

You should also avoid games that involve deep concentration, detailed hand-eye coordination, or complicated rule sets.

therapist game therapy for dementia
Therapists often use games like Jenga in their therapy sessions with dementia patients.

What Are Some Tips for Playing Games With Seniors With Dementia?

There are a few tips that can help make playing games with seniors with dementia more manageable, whether you are a professional caregiver or a beloved family member

1. Look for a Fun Challenge

First, it is essential to find games that are both challenging and fun. There are several options out there that meet both criteria. Look for games with simple rules but also have an element of strategy.

2. Summarize the Rules at the Beginning

Second, it is helpful to provide clear instructions and feedback to players, so they know how they are doing.

Some seniors with dementia may not be able to remember the rules of a game, or they may not understand what is happening. Providing clear instructions and feedback can help them stay engaged in the game.

3. Bring Lots of Patience

You must be extremely patient with seniors with dementia. Some games can take a long time to play, and seniors may get frustrated if the game does not go their way. It is crucial to allow them time to try different strategies and find a method that works best for them.

4. Take Breaks (and Quit Early)

Take breaks often so that seniors with dementia can rest their minds and hands. If they are too tired to continue, determine a winner by who has the most points or fewest cards and move one.

5. Use Familiar Games

Games that are already familiar to seniors with dementia can make playing the game more enjoyable. For example, games like jigsaw puzzles, card games, and board games may have been their favorite games in the past.

6. Encourage Active Participation

Encouraging active participation is important for seniors with dementia because it helps them stay engaged in the game and builds confidence. Some ideas for promoting active involvement include awarding points for correct answers, letting players choose their own tokens, or having players work together to complete a task.

seniors with dementia playing a game
Board games provide dementia patients with mental stimulation and enhance fine motor skills.

Board Games for Seniors with Dementia

The following board games that I am recommending for dementia are readily available at most retailers. If you’d like to see specialty boards games for dementia, check out these from the Alzheimer’s Store.

1. Checkers

Checkers is a popular game that dementia patients can enjoy. The game is simple to learn and can be played by people of all ages. So, have the grandkids join in as well. This game also provides good hand and fine motor skill exercises for seniors with dementia and provides a fun and social interaction.

2. Connect Four

Connect Four is an excellent game for people with dementia because it is simple to learn and has a short playtime. The game is also challenging with a bit of strategy, so they may be able to play longer without getting bored or feeling like they are playing a game for children.

3. Memory Match

The Memory Match Game is an excellent activity for seniors with dementia. It is simple to play and can be played anywhere. The game consists of a deck of cards with pictures on one side and words on the other. The player needs to match the images with the words.

For example, if there is a picture of a cat on one card, the player would need to find a word that starts with “c,” like “cat” or “hat.” The game can be played by two people or one person who has dementia and someone else who helps them play.

4. Scrabble

Playing scrabble with seniors can be a lot of fun! The game is simple enough for them to understand but still challenging enough that they won’t get bored.

Plus, it can help keep their minds active and engaged. You can play variations where only shorter words are used or buy extra blank tiles for them to use to make the game a bit simpler.

5. Monopoly

Seriously? Monopoly? Yes!

The most challenging part of playing Monopoly is keeping up with the money. There are electronic versions that keep track of this for you. Plus, there are more straightforward and quicker versions of the game. Rolling dice, moving pieces, and counting money, houses, and hotels are excellent exercises for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

6. Candy Land

While generally thought of as a game for children, Candy Land is a good game for older people with dementia. The rules are simple, and the game is easy to follow, so there is little chance of them getting lost.

It’s a lot of fun! If you haven’t played Candy Land lately, give it a try.

7. Jenga

Jenga is another classic game that anyone can enjoy, but it’s perfect for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The challenge of keeping the tower of Jenga upright while removing one block at a time keeps their minds engaged and active. It’s also great practice for maintaining steady hands!

7. Taboo

Taboo is a fun group game that involves guessing what other players are hiding words. This can be fun for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s, as they can get involved in the game and not feel left out. They may just enjoy getting buzzed if they say the taboo word.

8. The Game of Life

The Game of Life is another possible board game for dementia. This game can stir up memories as you work your way through your player’s life. Getting married, having kids, and changing jobs may be story-worthy moments. The Game of Life is another game that involves keeping up with money, so they may need a hand.

9. Trivial Pursuit

There are so many variations of Trivial Pursuit that there is one that is sure to be playable with your loved one who has dementia.

There is no shortage of trivia games for seniors, but one that is sure to be playable with your loved one who has dementia is Trivial Pursuit. There are many versions of the game, and it can be adapted to fit the needs of your loved one.

For instance, if your loved one has difficulty following rules or remembering information, you can seek out more straightforward questions or let them play on a team. 

10: Othello

Othello can be another simple game for dementia. While some strategy is needed, there is only one way to play and one basic rule to the game. To play Othello, you use two-sided black and white “coins” to get all the pieces turned over to your color.

See more board game options for dementia patients in this guide.

seniors playing games
Playing games with their peers increases socialization and reduces feelings of isolation.

Brain Games for Seniors With Dementia

Many brain games are perfect for elderly people with dementia. Brain games are designed to make you think and help keep seniors engaged and help improve brain function or maintain their short-term memory skills.

1. Memory Games

One of the best ways to keep seniors mentally active is to play memory games. These games help keep their minds sharp and can also help them socialize. There are various memory games that are perfect for seniors with dementia. Some use words but most use pictures.

2. Jigsaw Picture Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are an excellent idea for people with dementia because they keep the brain active and engaged. Puzzles can be challenging, but they also offer a sense of accomplishment when completed.

Plus, the pieces can be stored away in a box or bag to be used again later. You can choose easier puzzles for your loved one with fewer pieces during the latter stages of Alzheimer’s.

See some of my favorite large-piece puzzles for seniors here.

3. Word Match

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to activities and games for seniors with dementia. However, a word match game can be a great way to keep them engaged and stimulated.

This game is simple enough for those with limited cognitive skills but challenging enough that they will have fun while learning new words. To play word match games, simply have your loved one match pairs of words.

4. Sudoku

Sudoku is a puzzle game that is simple to play but challenging to solve. It can be a great way to keep seniors mentally active and engaged as they work on puzzles. Sudoku puzzles come in all shapes and sizes to find the perfect one for your loved one.

Plus, there are online versions of sudoku that are easy to access and play from anywhere.

5. Crosswords

Crosswords challenge their thinking skills while also providing them with some fun entertainment. Crosswords can be found in newspapers or magazines or online, making them accessible to almost anyone. You can order large print books on a subscription basis to keep your loved one in a constant supply of fresh puzzles.

6. Memory Games

This type of game requires them to remember specific information or images. This can be a fun challenge for seniors, and it can also help them stay sharp as they age. There are many different types of memory games so that you can find the perfect one for your loved one.

7. Picture Quiz

Picture quiz games are a great way to keep seniors mentally active and engaged. This type of game involves asking them to identify pictures or objects from a set selection. These games can be challenging, but they are also entertaining for seniors.

Plus, picture quiz games come in all different shapes and sizes, so you will be able to find the perfect one for your loved one.

8. Word Games

Word games are a great way to keep seniors mentally active and engaged. This type of game involves working with words and definitions to figure out the correct answer. These games can be challenging, but they are also fun for seniors.

attention games for older adults
Card games help people with dementia recognize colors, numbers, and patterns.

Card and Dice Games for Seniors With Dementia

There are many card games and dice games that seniors with dementia can play. Some of the popular card games include Uno, Go Fish and Crazy Eights. Some of the popular dice games include Bingo, Boggle, and Yahtzee.

1. Uno

This card game involves matching colors and numbers which promotes brain health. Uno can easily be played by many people with dementia, and it is a great way to keep them mentally active. You may even see their devilish side when they slap a “Draw Four” card on you.

2. Go Fish

Go Fish is another simple card game borrowed from what are commonly children’s games. Matching cards in their hand and recognizing which ones they need will provide mental stimulation and fun when they are the first to go out!

3. Crazy Eights

Crazy Eights is a popular card game that many elderly people with dementia can play. Playing this card game requires matching cards from their hand with those in the starter pile to get rid of all their cards.

4. Bingo

Bingo is an excellent way for seniors with dementia to keep their minds active and engaged. This game is easy to learn and has just a few simple rules. The game’s object is to cover all the squares on a bingo card with numbers from 1 to 25. Players can either choose to play by themselves or in teams.

5. Boggle

Boggle is another popular word game that many seniors with dementia can enjoy playing. This game involves forming short words from letters on dice. The dice are shaken at the beginning of the round to randomize the letters used in each game.

6. Yahtzee

Yahtzee is a dice game that requires organizing dice into sequences or multiples of the same numbers. So, it’s suitable for exercising the organizational parts of our brain. Yahtzee can be played in short bursts or extended sessions.

You can learn more about card games for seniors here.

Online Games for Seniors With Dementia

The good news is that many of these games are available in online versions. A few benefits of online games for seniors with dementia include:

Faster to Play

Online games have no setup or clean-up required, making them more enjoyable for seniors with dementia. They also tend to be simpler, so there is less chance for confusion. Plus, no time is wasted shuffling cards or filling out score sheets.

No Other Players Needed

Most online games can be played alone. This includes traditional solitary games like Solitaire, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles. Plus, many online board games will provide computer players to play against. 

No Need to Keep Score or Count Money

This is what I love the most about online games. There are no arguments over who has to be the banker. The computer will keep track of your money and your score.

Many Offer Hints

Many online games have tutorial modes or will provide quick hints if you get stuck. This can be helpful for older adults with dementia without them feeling like they are being prodded or pushed along.

If the senior has a tablet or smartphone, look for electronic variations of these games in the device’s app store.

I have some recommended iPad games for seniors with dementia here.

Choosing the Best Games for Seniors With Dementia

There are many different games that seniors with dementia can enjoy.

It is important to choose games that are both fun and stimulating for the individual while also being within their skill level and cognitive function.

Some of the best activities and games for seniors with dementia include: board games, card games, puzzles, computer games, and other activities that require physical activity. It is also essential to keep in mind the individual’s cognitive ability level when selecting a game.

Photo of author

Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP, CRTS®

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Certified Rehab Technology Supplier (CRTS®)

I have been serving seniors and the elderly for over 20 years as a medical equipment and custom wheelchair specialist for a regional medical equipment company. I am also a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not helping older adult improve the quality of their lives, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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