If you’re looking for a fun way to spend some time with your senior loved one, a board game might be the perfect solution!

Games aren’t just fun to play — they can also prove to be especially beneficial for seniors, helping them to keep their minds and memories as sharp as possible for years to come.

Sitting around the kitchen table and playing a game benefits everyone’s short-term memory, especially games that require strategy and thinking ahead. Playing checkers and chess, putting together a puzzle, or playing card games regularly have been proven to improve short-term memory and cognitive skills.

Games also help senior adults maintain the critical reasoning skills necessary to live independently. According to a study featured in The Journals of Gerontology, people who played games on a regular basis were significantly less likely to suffer from cognitive decline than their peers who didn’t play games.

What to look for in a game to play with seniors

  • Straightforward rules: When it’s easy to understand, beginners are more engaged and more likely to participate.
  • Large print: Make sure it’s easy to read for people who don’t see as well as they used to, and comes with big game pieces for those who struggle with fine motor skills and arthritis.
  • Variety: Having a collection of different games on hand keeps things interesting and engaging.
  • Keep it moving along: People living with dementia and declining cognitive skills will most likely enjoy games that last for a half hour or less per match.
  • Have a deck of cards handy: There are countless games for the elderly that can be played with cards and nothing else. Plus, it’s easy to reach into the drawer and start up a game at a moment’s notice.

Single player and multi-player options

Game time can be an excellent reason for family or friends to get together on a regular basis, which might be more appealing to seniors than the actual games themselves. A board game party can serve as a great weekend activity, filling Mom or Dad’s hearts with good memories,beloved company, and a welcome break from time spent alone.

In winter, when seniors are not going outside nearly as much as they would in warmer weather, game night can be a perfect opportunity to provide some human interaction and fun. It’s easy sometimes to forget how beneficial it is to spend time in the company of loved ones.

While group board games provide lots of direct benefits for seniors, single player games can also enhance your senior loved one’s life. There are many online platforms that will allow them to play games like Scrabble, Checkers, and Chess against a virtual opponent. Jigsaw puzzles and Rubik’s cubes are great games for the elderly who want more of a challenge.

If your senior loved one does spend a lot of time alone, joining a gaming group is a great way to make new friends. It’s not unusual for seniors to join card-playing groups that gather for canasta, bridge, poker or other card games as a must-attend monthly event for years.

Regular social interaction combats depression and keeps seniors from feeling lonely and isolated, a common problem for older adults. Studies indicate that seniors who regularly socialize enjoy both better mental and physical health – even living longer than people of their age group who don’t have a strong social network.

Perfect for any age

Another great perk of board games for the elderly is that they don’t require physical strength and endurance, so you’re never too old to play. Research indicates that consistent gaming can improve cognitive skills in those in their seventies and prevent cognitive decline in people 80 and older. So, grab some games and snacks and head over to have some fun with your senior loved one!

Need more senior activity ideas? Visit Bethesda’s blog!