Elderly Games For Fun and Function
Elderly games are excellent ways to exercise the “mental muscles”
We're probably all familiar with the popular games for seniors, including large print -- such as bingo, card games like bridge and rummy, scrabble, word games, crossword puzzles, also the Wii games such as bowling and golf. And there are many computer games out especially for seniors and elderly. But there are many more game activities for seniors too.
Such games are not only popular and fun, but also very important to our brains. We discussed the important of our mental muscles on another page. Some of these mental factors include Reason, Imagination and Memory. Various games can be geared to stimulate memory, promote focus and attention, relieve stress, encourage language skills and cognitive skills, etc. All while having lots of fun. Even without a formal curriculum per se, since almost any type of game is valuable. (And there are also excellent elderly games on video that seniors can enjoy. And they’re really fun to play with kids.)
Numerous studies have discussed the fact that genetics is only a portion (approximately a third) of what impacts our memories and brain function. As we’ve discussed in our health, nutrition and dementia pages, other key factors include attitude, exercise, the foods we eat, sleep, medication, stress, and activities including elderly games – to name a few. So it’s imperative to ensure that our elderly participate in as many activities as possible that promote healthy lifestyle.
Here are some suggestions for elderly games that are sure to be fun and functional.
Math Bee -- Math activities can make really fun elderly games, for those who have good cognitive skills and want to keep them. Do you remember having to recite your “times tables” aloud in class? We would all stand up and our teacher would fire a multiplication table question at us like, “8 times 8 equals what?” If you got it wrong you sat down. After 20 minutes whoever was left standing got a prize. Well this basic concept can be modified. You can let your group study or practice a little beforehand, if you’d like. The elderly participants will be sitting, so you can pass out a colorful card or piece of paper to hold. If they get the question wrong, they put their card in a basket. After the designated time frame, whoever still has a card gets a main prize. But everyone gets a prize just for participating. You can also do a similar exercise with addition or subtraction – which may be easier for certain groups.
Photo Puzzle -- This is most fun if you have taken previous photos of the group of elderly people who will be participating. Blow up the photos on a color copy machine so they are at least 8x10 in size. Divide the group into teams. Each team gets a photo that you have cut up into puzzle pieces, as complicated as is appropriate for your group. Set a timer for the time frame you want for your group: approximately 3 to 5 minutes. The team who puts their puzzle together first within the time frame win prizes.
Guess Who Game -- Have everyone in your group bring a photo of themselves from when they were a little child. Write their name on the back. Put a post-it note with a number on the front. Attach them all to a bulletin board. Everyone in the group gets a pen and paper, with a list of all the numbers. After each number they write the name of which adult in the group they think the child was. Whoever gets the most right wins a prize. Name tags can also be worn.
Elderly games using photos can also include wedding pictures, if appropriate.
What I Loved To Do As A Child -- Elderly games can also involve fun reminiscing. For this one, go around the room with each person discussing their favorite activity or hobby when they were a child. Did they continue it as they grew? Why were they attracted to that activity? Are they still interested today? Do they still participate? If not, would they like to? If the activity is no longer possible to participate in, is there any way it can be modified in order to still enjoy it? Would others in the room also be interested? Sometimes interesting friendships or groups can be started this way, or interests renewed. And it definitely will spark some fun memories and a few laughs.
Botanical Identification Game -- Field trips are always popular– even if it’s just right outside. And you can also include elderly games with them Have a field trip to a botanical garden if you can, or even through a community garden with a leader who can name and discuss the various kinds of flowers and plants, and an interesting fact about each. Later, take a beverage and snack break. Pass out paper and a pen to all. The leader then holds up a sample of 10 or so botanical specimens, depending on your group. The participants write down what it is, and/or a fact about it. Or talk about it aloud. Whoever gets the most right wins a prize. It’s best to tell the group ahead of time that there will be a game at the end, so they can be sure to pay attention. This is lots of fun for anyone who loves gardening or nature, and is also a good memory exercise.
Fall Leaves -- There are many elderly activities to do with fall leaves. Start out by going out on a nice day around the yard, grounds, or a park. Bring a book on trees and leaves. The leader or guide can point out the various trees, tell something about them, and participants can gather leaves (it's a good idea to bring a bag). When you get back, play a memory game. Have the leader hold up various leaves and participants remember what trees they were from. Also try preserving leaves the old-fashioned way: Spread down newspapers. Then place leaves between 2 sheets of wax paper. Cover with newspapers, and iron until the leaves are coated with wax. The newspapers absorb the extra wax. Let them cool. Remove leaves, and use for decoupage projects, centerpieces, making garlands, or press between two sheets of clear contact paper to make place mats.
Cognitive Video Games -- Good elderly games are also out on video. An excellent video game is the CognitFit Personal Coach, and individualized program for cognitive fitness. You take a short assessment, then the program sets up your routine on the computer, and monitors progress, and responds to your current situation. So it is a unique and individualized program that can adjust as skills adjust. Based on scientifically designed tasks. There are many more fun video games available, and kids play them too so make great teachers and partners!
Large Tic Tac Toe - One of the ever-popular elderly games is tic-tac-toe. An especially large game surface can be created by taking a white board either on a stand or set on a table or lap, and sectioning off the squares with bright tape, such as blue painter’s tape. This makes a permanent grid. The squares can be very large, even four or five inches across. Even those with visual impairment can play if the squares are large enough. Then erasable markers can be used for hours of fun. You can blow up a tic tac toe grid at a local printer, then trace mark it off onto your white board. You’ll get instant and easy perfect squares without the hassle of measuring.
Name That Tune -- Musical elderly games are always a great favorite and this game is good for both the memory and mood. You can find music books for the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc. in music stores or online at Amazon.com if you want to order one. Or visit
and do a search for lyrics and lists of songs. Using a CD works fine with this game, but of course it’s even more fun to have someone play the piano or guitar. Begin by playing 3 to 5 notes of the song, then pause and let participants call out the tune (if they can…yet). Then add 3 more notes and pause, adding 3 notes each time until someone guesses. Prizes are always a hit!
The Best Advice My Mother (or Dad) Ever Gave Me… -- Elderly games that involve laughs are excellent mood lifters. This is a great party game especially for birthdays. The birthday person gets to be the “judge.” Or else draw a name and let someone be “It.” Everybody writes down the best piece of advice given, then puts it in a bowl or box and passes it to the person who is “It.” They read them all out loud (lots of laughs) and then chooses the top two favorites. Those people get a prize (and they can also tell if they followed the advice!). To do two games, also play The Worst Advice…
Fill In The Hymn -- Get phrases from some favorite old hymns and leave out the words. Participants and either call out the answer to fill in the phrase, or write them down. When someone gets one right, they can receive a prize. Or if writing them down, whoever gets the most right gets a prize. Or whoever turns their answers in first and gets them all right wins. Other fill-in elderly games can include psalms and other scriptures, and famous sayings or idioms.
Name That Musical Instrument -- This is particularly fun for those who have loved music in the past. Instrumental music is ideal for this game. You will need a music player with a pause button. Choose a song that is well-known (including classical) and that includes a variety of musical instruments – piano, guitar, drum, oboe, saxophone, violin, bass viola, cymbals, trumpets, etc. You can play the song all the way through first, if you’d like. Then as it plays, pause when a predominant instrument comes in, so the participants can either call out the instrument or write it down. This game encourages participants to stay focused and alert, and to recall information. Plus good music is calming and uplifting to listen to.
The Price Is Right -- Elderly games are available in the stores as board games, of course, but you can also devise your own. Have several items from the store available that are familiar to your group; things they would use and may still even shop for. Then draw names to “come on down.” The contestants guess at the price of an item or several. Whoever comes the closest but not over, wins a prize. And if the item is a really good one, they can even win it on the spot (perhaps a music CD, a movie, flowers, treats, etc.). There can also be a main prize at the end that the top two winners vie for. Just follow the general guidelines of the TV game show, and then use your imagination and knowledge of you group to create the rest. You may be able to collect donated items as well, or bring in quality “white elephant” gifts to use – both for items to price, and also as prizes.
Using Kids’ Games and Toys -- You may be familiar with the concept that young children’s toys and games are ideal for the elderly -- being soft, large, easy to see and use. But keep in mind that many elderly, including those confined to nursing homes, still may have enough savvy or pride to feel an activity is demeaning, silly or “babyish” and may resist these. Although it is true that many educational toys and games for small children are also truly beneficial for seniors and can make great elderly games. A great solution is to have your loved one, when possible, participate in the child’s activity with a child. That can include grandkids, someone else’s grandkids, or having young children from a local school or scout troop come and visit. Even older children are usually enthusiastic about playing “younger” games with the elderly, because they get what the goal is about.
Also check out Easy Crafts and Gifts You Can Make...
and find out about our book with lots of easy yet quality craft ideas for many seasons, reasons, ages and ability levels; plus free templates you can use for a variety of projects.
Our Kindle Games Book!
Are you looking for lots of elderly games? Whether for the whole family, games to do alone, or ideas for activity directors, this is a great book for you! Our Kindle book has something for everyone and for just about every occasion. It contains lots of new games, plus many of those mentioned on our web site -- all nicely organized so you don't have to hunt all over. We have Holiday Games, Party Games, Mind Games, Dementia Games, Outdoor Games, and much more. It is thorough! (And you can read a Kindle book on your PC with a free download, without a Kindle device). So check it out on our Kindle page at:
71 Fun Games for Seniors!
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