No matter how old we get, we never really lose our childlike love of fun and games - even as elderly people! Although when we get older we may not be as mobile as we used to be, there are still plenty of great games for old people to keep us entertained and challenge our brains.
In fact, not only do games help to keep our brains sharp, but they’re also good for our overall health and wellbeing; whether played alone or in a group.
So, to find out what our top 51 games for elderly people are, grab a piece of paper, a deck of cards and a few dice and prepare to play.
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There are plenty of benefits when it comes to playing games; not just for the elderly, but for people in general. These benefits include:
Improve mental health
Keeping the brain active
Boost memory and concentration
Nurturing imagination and creativity
Encouraging socialising and bonding
Improving mood and wellbeing
Even though some elderly people might have physical or cognitive challenges, most games can easily be modified to suit the person playing; from cards or board games with larger text to quick 5-10 minute games for those with a reduced attention span.
The variety of games that are now available is seemingly endless, which can make the choice difficult. To help you narrow down your choice, we've provided a few categories of senior citizen-friendly games, with a few examples to inspire you.
If you’re ready to have some fun and play games, read on to get stuck into all the different games available!
Playing just five minutes of puzzle games every day has been shown to boost your brain function. In fact, puzzle games can even help prevent cognitive decline and ward off dementia if played regularly.
The original puzzle game, jigsaw puzzles stimulate our mind and boost our visual-spatial skills, memory and logic. Even more interestingly, they have also been proven to reduce blood pressure and slow our heart rate, helping us to de-stress and relax. There are also puzzles that have been specially designed for people living with dementia.
Originally developed by a Swedish game designer, Ubungo is an abstract puzzle game that can be played by two to four players. In Ubongo, you’ll be competing against your fellow players to solve individual puzzles of interlocking geometric shapes as quickly as you can to grow your treasure of gems.
A fun game that can be played in a group, Cranium involves a number of different puzzles, including acting, sculpting, drawing and music. Team up with other players to make your way around the board and complete the challenges. These challenges aren’t always straightforward, so watch out for ones that include drawing with your eyes shut, spelling words backwards and humming a song - often with hilarious results!
A true family favourite, Cluedo is a a murder mystery game that has been around since the 1940s. In Cluedo players work individually to crack a murder case by using logic to identify the murderer, the weapon and the location. There are lots of different variations of Cluedo on the market, so why not pick one to suit your tastes; from Game of Thrones Cluedo to Harry Potter and Star Wars themes.
Playing board games is a great option for groups or families to play together - and it’s even been suggested that they help slow cognitive decline or reduce depression in the elderly.
Further, you can play board games sitting down to give anyone with achy joints or limited mobility a rest.
If you or your elderly relative live in a care home, why not ask your activities coordinator to plan a board games night with exciting prizes?
A tried and tested classic, chess and checkers challenge your logic and strategy as you work to beat your opponent. To play chess or checkers, you’ll need to use strategy, plan ahead and keep your opponent guessing your next move. Both games have been shown to improve focus and concentration, as well as memory, due to having to remember previous games and combinations of moves. Why not play against the clock for added suspense.
A fun family game, in Ticket to Ride, players collect as many North American railway routes as they can to get to the most cities around the world. There are so many different variations of Ticket to Ride, including Poland, San Francisco, Europe, Amsterdam and London to name but a few. Ticket to Ride is accessible for all ages, a good option for new players or those who like a more relaxing game.
A beautifully illustrated and quirky board game, Dixit encourages you to use your imagination and creativity to fool your opponents and move around the board. Players take it in turn to be the ‘storyteller’, making up a sentence about a chosen picture card. The rest of the players select a card which they think best matches the sentence and everyone has to vote for the card they think was the storyteller’s. A game with constant twists and turns, Dixit is both charming and entertaining in equal measure.
Another classic board game, Scrabble is one for the word-lovers, as you spot letter patterns and connect different words together to win points. Play with two to four people and boost your vocabulary at the same time. You can also play Scrabble online against a computer or other online players.
Card games are among the most convenient game options - all you need is a flat surface to play on. Card games have been around since the 9th Century in Ancient China and are still incredibly popular today. You can also get packs of oversized playing cards, or decks with large print for those who struggle with their eyesight.
A classic card game, in gin rummy you must organise your cards before your opponent to win. The objective of gin rummy is to collect cards into melds and have as little deadwood - or useless cards - as possible at the end of the game. A game is over when one player reaches 100 points.
A fun game that requires a good poker face, discard cards in pairs as quickly as you can until one person is left holding the unwanted ‘Old Maid’ card. To play, choose one card to leave out of the pack, then divide the rest of the cards between players. To make it more fun, don’t look at the card you’ve left out to create added suspense.
A card game similar to Blackjack, UNO is a colourful card game where players work to get rid of their cards by matching them to the upturned card on top of the deck. The game is called UNO because when players are down to one card, they must declare ‘UNO’ or face a penalty. UNO is easy to play for all the family.
A solo card game that’s perfect for whiling away an hour or two, Solitaire can also be played as a computer game. If you have a few hours spare, there are several different variations of Solitaire, including Klondike (the classic version), Pyramid solitaire, Golf solitaire and Yukon.
It’s easy to have fun with a few dice and some paper - plus these items can be easily transported around for a game at any time you wish. Some popular dice games for elderly people are:
Yahtzee is a dice rolling game where players take turns to put five dice in a cup and roll them. You win this game by rolling the highest-scoring combinations possible. Special Yahtzee sets come with a dice cup, five dice, ten bonus chips and 80 score cards to keep track of games.
Bluff your way to the top in this thrilling game by deceiving your opponents and spotting when they are trying to trick you. To play, the first player calls their hand and the other players can either call a higher-ranking hand, call the first player’s bluff, or re-roll some or all of their dice. When a bluff is called, the accused bluffer must reveal their dice and the winner is determined.
Bunco is a dice game typically played in large groups of 12 people or more. Players take turns to roll three dice in a series of six rounds and the aim is to win as many points as you can by rolling dice that match the number of the round of play. Rolling three of the same number that also matches the round number is called getting a bunco.
Mexico is an elimination-style dice game, in which players agree to play a set number of rounds. Players need to avoid rolling the lowest dice score in each round to be the last player standing. When all players but one have been eliminated, the remaining player is the winner. .
Keep your language skills in tip-top condition with a few word games. Many word games can be played solo, perfect for those who prefer some quiet time alone to focus and challenge their brains.
From simple crosswords to cryptic crosswords, enjoy solving clues to fill out the grid with interconnected words and phrases. You can enjoy doing the daily crossword puzzles in the newspaper, head online to find more games, or buy a special crossword puzzle book to keep you entertained for hours.
A simple paper game you can play with a partner, players take it in turns to think of a word, with the other player attempting to guess what the word is, one letter at a time. However, each wrong letter brings your little stick figure closer to danger, so guess carefully!.
In this board game, players take turns to shake a tray of 16-letter dice and then try to spot as many words as they can before the timer runs out. You get points for each word - the longer the word, the more points you’ll get!
A high-speed board game, in Articulate players work in teams to describe cards in 30 seconds without actually saying the word on the card. There are several categories of card, including Nature, Random, Action and Person. Articulate may sound easy, but trying to describe a word without actually saying it when you’re competing against a timer can lead to some very funny guesses.
Not everyone likes words and luckily there are lots of fun number games to challenge your brain and mental maths skills.
Sudoku are little number puzzles where players must complete a grid of numbers so that each row, column and sub-grid contains each number from one to nine. You can find different difficulty level Sudoku puzzles too, from easy to hard. Doing Sudoku helps you build strong maths and logic skills and the puzzles are often found in newspapers, or online.
Battleships is a two-player game that uses maths and probability. Originally a pen and paper game, Battleships can now be played as a board game. Opponents hide their ships on opposite sides of the board and then take turns to guess where each other’s ships are.
Minesweeper is a numbers-based video game that encourages players to employ logic to open all the squares in a grid without blowing up a mine.
As we get older, keeping our memory sharp becomes even more important. Luckily there are lots of fun memory and brain games that provide a challenge for our memory skills.
Place a deck of cards or special picture cards face-down on a table, then take it in turns to turn over two at once to find matching pairs. Even better, you can play this alone or in a group.
If you’re a geography whizz, challenge yourself to remember all the different flags of the world in this engaging game. There are lots of flag game mobile apps if you want to play on a smartphone.
The tray game can be really handy for improving those all-important memory skills. To play, put a variety of different objects on a tray and give participants some time to look at everything. Then, cover the items with a cloth and see who can recall the most items in a set time limit.
This fun and frustrating memory game is ideal for groups. To play, the first player says: ‘I went to the shop and I bought…’, inserting an item of their choosing. The next player must then repeat the first player’s item and then add an additional item. Go around the group until someone misses out an item, or can’t remember what comes next.
There’s nothing like a pub quiz to test your memory skills - plus it’s fun to play in groups. Stick with the tried and tested categories format of sports, history, literature and more, or make your own categories to tailor the quiz to the players.
If you or your elderly loved one lives in a care home, there are many fun social games that can be played in a group to encourage social interaction and bonding.
Who doesn’t love a game of bingo? Players compete to be the first player to match five numbers in a row or a column in this popular game. Why not see if there’s a bingo hall near you, or if you live in a care home - ask the activities coordinator to put on a special bingo night.
This is a great one for a nostalgia trip - simply gather everyone together and play the first few seconds of a song, pausing it to let people guess what it is. Keep playing and pausing the song until someone guesses correctly.
Charades is an energising party game that gets everyone up on their feet and moving. Players take it in turns to think of a word or a phrase - often a book or a film - and act it out for the other players to guess.
Guess the Food is a brilliant game that can be enjoyed by all ages and is easy to set up. All you have to do is select a few different foods - for seniors it’s really effective if you pick nostalgic foods that might trigger memories - blindfold the players and challenge them to guess what the food is. This sort of game also opens up discussion of past experiences and fond memories, which is especially beneficial for those living with dementia.
Gather a group together and fill a small bag with items, then encourage players to take turns to dip their hands in and feel for an object. Each player then tries to guess what they’re holding before pulling the item out of the bag to reveal it. If you fill the bag with sensory and reminiscence items, this is another great game for dementia patients.
If your elderly loved one has access to a smartphone or a computer, why not get them to discover some fun online games? There are tonnes of different free online memory games for seniors, including:
Lumosity can be found on the App Store for iPhones or the Google Play Store for android phones. You’ll find a diverse variety of brain training games on Lumosity, from logic and number puzzles to memory and problem-solving puzzles.
Mahjong is a Chinese tile game similar to Scrabble that can be played in person or online. Players take turns to roll the dice to group tiles of different symbols and characters and build a winning combination of tiles. Each player gets 14 tiles and Mahjong is achieved by grouping all 14 tiles into four sets and one pair. Points are awarded based on the moves made and the speed at which correct moves are made.
Originating from the German board game Settlers of Catan, Catan can now be played online. Players compete to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by collecting tools and resources to build settlements, cities and roads.
Escape rooms aid logic and strategy, as well as being fun to play online. Typically users are placed in a room or building and have to use the computer mouse to click and investigate different objects, solving puzzles as they go. There are lots of online escape rooms for seniors to play that encourage seniors to exercise their brains and find a way out of the room or scenario within the time limit.
Although video games have a bit of a reputation for being for the younger generations, in fact elderly people love to play video games too - with many over 60s playing video games every day. Video games aren’t always solely about shooting and fighting either - they provide visual and auditory experiences that can help keep older people engaged and entertained.
To play video games, you can use anything from a laptop or computer to a smartphone, digital tablet or games console.
A popular mobile game, in Candy Crush you match together different pieces of colourful candy to reach goals within set time limits or number of moves. A game that’s possibly even more addictive than sugar itself, Candy Crush does encourage players to make connections and patterns to keep their mind sharp.
This is one for fantasy fans - Skyrim is a beautifully designed quest game set in a fantasy world where you can undertake challenges in your own time. Enjoy exploring the extensive map, meet new characters and fight fearsome dragons, all from the comfort of your sofa.
In this fun video game, players build a virtual empire using key strategies such as diplomacy and warfare, trying to find the best way to be the most successful ruler. The game was first released in 1991 and has released no fewer than six iterations since, with several spin-offs to enjoy too.
Nintendo’s Animal Crossing is a charming social simulation video game in which you move to a new village and meet its animal residents, complete small challenges and furnish your own home by buying and selling materials. An endless and non-linear game, Animal Crossing encourages social interaction, creative thinking and critical thinking, but is also a really relaxing way to spend an hour or two.
In warm weather, it’s fun to head outside for some outdoor games with friends and family. If you’re worrying about your elderly relative running around playing tennis, don’t worry - there are many outdoor games that can be adapted for those with reduced mobility.
An old-fashioned garden game, croquet requires players to hit their balls through a six-hoop course to hit the centre peg and win. You can even ‘roquet’ your opponents by knocking their ball off course!
Bowls is a peaceful lawn game that’s perfect for seniors. Players take it in turns to roll a special ball along the lawn to get their ball closer to the target, or jack, than their opponent's. The only frustrating thing is watching your opponent knock your ball out of the target zone on their turn!
Bocce dates back to the Roman Empire and is a popular outdoor game that’s great for elderly people. A Bocce set consists of eight bocce balls and a pallino or a jack. Teams must toss the balls as close to the jack as possible to win.
An old-fashioned funfair-style game, ring toss is simple and enjoyable. Simply place a post or stick a certain distance away from all players, then take it in turns to toss a ring or a hoop over the stick. The player with the most successful throws wins. To make it harder, increase the distance of the post, make the hoops smaller, or challenge players to throw with their non-dominant arm. If you don’t have a post and hoops, you can throw a bean bag instead.
Another old favourite, a game of skittles is easy to set up and play outdoors. If you don’t have a skittles set to hand, you can use bottles or cans. Skittles can also be played sitting down if you use a table as the ‘bowling lane’.
For older adults who have greater mobility and no health conditions to prevent them from running around, there is a range of sporty games for elderly people.
If you’re up for a more physically demanding activity, badminton is a fun game where players hit a shuttlecock over a net. Similar to tennis, badminton is less aggressive and the racquet is lighter, making it ideal for older players,
Get a couple of teams together for a game of beach ball - try to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible by volleying it back and forth between players. You can also play this seated if players find it difficult to stand for long periods of time - and use a balloon instead of a ball.
A miniature version of baseball, in Wiffle Ball players attempt to score more runs than the other team over six or more innings. The game is played using a lightweight plastic ball and a plastic bat and can also be played indoors if there is enough room.
Tetherball is a simple game that can improve mobility and flexibility. A ball is suspended by a string from an upright pole and players hit the ball in opposite directions; either using their hand or a bat. The aim of the game is to wrap the ball around the pole in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction before your opponent can hit it back.
Golf is a much-loved pastime for many seniors and doesn’t involve too much strenuous exercise. If your loved one can’t get to the golf course anymore, why not set up a golfing green in the garden so that they can still enjoy their favourite hobby. If your loved one lives in a care home, you can also purchase indoor putting mats.
We hope you’ve been inspired by our round-up of great games for elderly people. Not only does playing games help hone your cognitive skills, stimulate your brain and encourage focus, but the overall happiness and wellbeing you get from socialising with friends, or the mood boost from completing a tricky puzzle, does wonders too.
When it comes to games, there’s really no age limit. Whether you prefer a spot of quiet solo gaming, or your favourite thing to do is gather friends and family together for a noisy afternoon of fun and laughter, the most important thing is to relax and enjoy it! Whatever your choice of game, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy from our list.