11 Best Mental Games for the Elderly

by R Long
May 17, 2023

Games have been a part of human society for centuries. They are not only a source of entertainment but also have several benefits. Games can help develop cognitive skills, improve social interactions, and provide a sense of community. As we age, games become even more crucial, especially for the elderly. In this article, we will discuss the importance of games for the elderly and the various types of games that can be beneficial for them.

It is not just physical exercise that our bodies need – mental exercise can help our brains remain sharp. Dementia becomes a looming fear the older we get. Mental exercise through games for the elderly will help keep it at bay. Hey, it’s fun and exciting. Everyone loves games, especially those tailored for us.

Web MD insists that even 5 minutes a day of brain exercise can help the elderly. However, it is not a panacea. It takes time. Using your brain will help when you need to use your brain. Don’t expect overnight changes. However, if seniors continually challenge themselves then it will make a difference to their brain health.

Games for the Elderly

Playing games for the elderly improves their mental health and helps to keep their minds sharp. By playing games, seniors can develop social connections with those they are around. This helps to combat the isolation that so many seniors feel.

The National Institute on Aging has concluded that by playing games, seniors may improve or help their cognitive abilities. Other studies have concluded that “playing games can improve physical and cognitive abilities, reduce stress levels, and enhance mood. Playing games can also help seniors develop social connections, combat isolation, and maintain independence.”

Mental Benefits of Seniors Playing Games

Playing games can also provide several mental benefits for the elderly. Here are some mental benefits of playing games for the elderly:

  1. Improved cognitive function: Games that require seniors to think and strategize can help improve their cognitive function.
  2. Enhanced memory: Games that require seniors to recall information can help improve their memory. For instance, playing memory games can help seniors improve their short-term memory.
  3. Improved mood and mental well-being: Games can be an effective tool to reduce stress levels and improve mental health. It can reduce the risk of depression and other health issues associated with social isolation.
  4. Connecting with family and friends: By playing games together, seniors can engage in social interactions and build connections with their family and friends. It also provides a sense of companionship and support, which can be especially important for seniors who live alone or far away from their loved ones.

Great Games for Seniors

Each person has different needs and abilities. Not all games are suitable for each person. One will get more out of a game if they enjoy it. Some just do not enjoy jigsaw puzzles while for others, it may be their first choice when choosing which game to play.

Mental games are those that require thinking and strategizing. By regularly playing these games and therefore by being engaged in games related to memory and reasoning skills, these skills will improve as your brain health improves. As the saying goes: use it or lose it.

Per Medical News Today: “Brain exercises may help boost and maintain brain function. Memory games, learning new skills, crosswords, and even video games may help.” Thus to improve memory function and thinking skills, you must use your brain every day. Harvard Health studies have shown that it takes about six months to see the results of brain exercises. It takes time but playing games is fun and not to be discounted.

11 Best Mental Games for Seniors

These games can help improve cognitive function and memory. Here are some of the best mental games for the elderly:

1. Bingo

Bingo is a classic game that can be played by seniors of all ages. It involves marking off numbers on a card as they are called out. Bingo can help improve memory and cognitive function. You can play online as well as in a bingo hall. Playing with others is more fun as you can enjoy social interaction.

2. Scrabble

Scrabble is a word game that can help seniors improve their vocabulary and keep their minds sharp. It involves creating words using tiles with different letters and values. Each player needs to recall words and make decisions regarding where on the board to place their word. The game is engaging and will help to slow the progression of cognitive impairment for those who play it often.

3. Sudoku

Sudoku is a number game that can help seniors improve their problem-solving skills and memory. It involves filling in a grid with numbers, making sure that each row and column contains all and only the numbers from 1 to 9. Start with the easy games to play before moving to the intermediate and harder games. There are a variety of sudoku games that can be purchased. Just remember to get a large print so it is easier to read.

4. Puzzle Games

Puzzle games are those that involve solving puzzles, such as jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles. These games can help improve cognitive function and memory. Players must concentrate on the puzzle. All parts of the brain must be used as the game demands creativity as well as logic.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a popular pastime enjoyed by people of all ages. They involve assembling various interlocking puzzle pieces to recreate a complete image. Working on jigsaw puzzles can provide a sense of satisfaction, relaxation, and an opportunity to exercise problem-solving and spatial reasoning skills. Larger pieces are easier for seniors to handle.

Crossword Puzzles

Crossword puzzles can be a beneficial tool for seniors to enhance their vocabulary and cognitive function. This engaging activity requires filling a grid with words that correspond to the given clues. By participating in crossword puzzles, seniors can actively stimulate their mental abilities and improve their linguistic skills.

5. Solitaire

Solitaire is a fun game that can be played alone or with others. It can easily keep one occupied for long periods of time. There are many sites online that provide solitaire games for the elderly.

This game requires focus and attention to detail, which can help improve cognitive abilities such as memory, problem-solving, and decision-making. Playing solitaire can also help the elderly relax and reduce feelings of stress or anxiety.

Solitaire can be played on the internet “for free” or you can purchase a handheld game from Amazon. The choice depends upon the person. The internet is free and fast, depending on your home internet speed, but you can take the handheld version everywhere.

6. Wordle

Wordle comes out daily in the New York Times. You must use your reasoning skills to figure out the answer with the clues given. You start with a blank screen and as you choose a 5-letter word. The letters change color alerting you as to whether those letters are in the final wordle and whether they are in the correct position in the word.

You get 6 changes to choose the right wordle. The first choice is just luck. After that, it takes reasoning. The more you play, the better you get at solving the puzzle. You can buy a version of the game but it is much more exciting to play the game on the New York Times site on the internet.

7. Minesweeper

Minesweeper is an online game in that you must use reasoning to figure out the answer. If you click the wrong block, the bombs explode and you lose! Again, you are given clues to figure out the answer. It can be done but you must think about your choices.

8. Sokoban

Sokoban is a word that means warehouse keeper in Japanese. The objective of the game is to push boxes around trying to get them in their correct position. There are many variations of this game. However, you must reason out why the boxes will or will not fit. You can solve the game and must exercise your brain to do so. It is more exciting if you play online so give it a shot!

9. Checkers

Checkers is a simple and popular game. The rules and mechanics of the game are easy to understand and master. It can be played with two people and does not require any special skills. However, a player must use strategic thinking to win the game.

10. Mahjong

Mahjong or mah-jongg is a game played with tiles that was developed in the 19th century in China. That just goes to show its popularity as it has been around for so long. Mahjong is a game of skill and strategy. And just like all other games for the elderly, luck!

The 144 tiles are mixed and each of the players (usually 4) chooses tiles to begin the game. Each player attempts to get a “legal hand” by discarding and choosing tiles. The first player to accomplish this wins. To make this game even more challenging the National Mah Jongg League distributes new cards with explanations of new “legal hands” each year!

11. Card Games

There are so many games to be played with cards. You can find card games online or card games can be played in a social setting. Here are four games but there are so many more card games for the elderly.

1. Bridge

Bridge is a classic card game that requires strategy and critical thinking. Playing bridge can help the elderly improve their memory and concentration skills, as well as their ability to analyze and make decisions.

It is a social game that can help seniors stay connected with others and prevent feelings of loneliness. However, it can also be played against online competitors.

2. Poker

Poker is a popular card game that requires a combination of luck and skill. Playing poker can help the elderly improve their analytical and strategic thinking, as well as improve their ability to read and interpret body language and facial expressions. Additionally, poker is a social game that can help seniors stay connected with others and build relationships.

3. Rummy

Rummy is a fun and easy-to-learn card game that can be played with two or more players. This game requires players to think critically and strategically, as well as to remember the cards that have been played. Playing rummy can help the elderly improve their memory and concentration skills, as well as their ability to think creatively and make decisions.

4. Go Fish

Go Fish is a simple and enjoyable card game that can also be played with children or grandchildren. This game requires players to match cards and collect sets, which can help improve memory and concentration skills. Playing Go Fish can also be a fun way for seniors to bond with younger family members and stay connected with the younger generation.

Considerations When Choosing Games for the Elderly

Games that require social interaction are the best games for the elderly. However, games that can be played at home can be satisfying. The internet can be used to play games. Or, if you prefer to be able to hold the puzzle pieces in your hands, they can be ordered, and then play the old-fashioned way. We all remember the card table that stayed in the corner of the room for weeks as we slowly pieced together that jigsaw puzzle. We felt great satisfaction when the puzzle was completed.

Playing card games can be a great way for the elderly to stay mentally sharp and socially engaged. Some of the more popular card games are listed above. There are many more different types of card games that can be enjoyed by seniors of all ages and abilities.

By incorporating games into elderly care, we can improve the quality of life for seniors and promote their overall health and well-being. It takes time and patience to exercise your brain to solve the puzzles. However, the benefits provided will keep us all in good stead. Especially for the elderly.

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