Why Play Games?

At any age, playing games is healthy for the mind and body. Games are an especially great pastime to take up after retirement. They can keep the brain active, involve social interaction, and are a good, inexpensive form of entertainment. On a serious note, studies have shown that playing games may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, so playing games could actually allow you to live longer.

Type of Games for Senior Citizens

While everyone has a different idea of what games they like, keep games for senior citizens simple enough as to not be boring, but not so challenging that they will cause distress or confusion. These games are especially popular with seniors.

Homemade Games

Sometimes the games you organize on your own are the most fun. Here are a few suggestions.

Name That Tune

You can create your own version of the old TV game show. Gather together recordings of songs from various eras. Play a particular song and see who can name it first. That person wins that round, and play continues as long as you like. The ultimate winner is the person who wins the most rounds.

Who Is It?

This game is sure to bring laughs and fun to a group of seniors who know each other well. Have everyone bring a picture of themselves in their younger years, and try to guess who each person is.

Beanbag Tic-Tac-Toe

This game offers a gentle physical twist on the old paper and pencil version. You’ll need two sets of beanbags in two different colors. Just use sidewalk chalk to draw a 4′ x 4′ tic-tac-toe board on a driveway or parking lot. Players can take turns tossing their bags into different squares until someone gets three in a row.

Make Senior Games an Event

For many seniors, the amount of time spend alone is difficult, especially when a spouse passes away or when community involvement is cut back due to mobility issues. One way to make these games really count is to make them a weekly or monthly event. They could be promoted through a church group, senior center, or among friends. Invite as many people as you can and arrange for transportation. Also, let senior friends know that the invitation is also open for spectators who just want to get out of the house.

Elderly games are excellent ways to exercise the “mental muscles.”
Do you tend to use the same card games, board games, and word games over and over? Some are of course very popular and comfortable.

The Usual…

But most seniors also like to try something new!
We’re probably all familiar
with the typical – including games with large print.
If you want ideas for outdoor games, see our page on outdoor elderly activities. (And some be done indoors as well).
Large-print games have become easier to get, such as bingo, card games like bridge and rummy, scrabble, word games, crossword puzzles. Plus there are the Wii games such as bowling and golf. And many computer games especially for seniors.
But there are many more games to consider.

Here are 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? 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.

This basic concept can be modified. Do addition, subtraction, or multiplication. Maybe let your group study or practice a little beforehand. Participants will be sitting, so pass out colorful cards or pieces of paper to hold. Different colors for each person. Or they’re given a number, which is put on their batch of cards.

If they get the question wrong, they put their card in a basket. After the designated time, whoever still has the most cards gets a main prize. But everyone gets a prize just for participating.

Photo Puzzle — This is most fun if you have taken previous photos of each group member. Blow up the photos on a color copy machine so they are at least 8×10 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: about 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 childhood photo of themselves. 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 person 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. 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 fun memories and a few laughs.

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.” “It” will read them all out loud (lots of laughs) and then choose the top 2 favorites. They get a prize (and they can also tell if they followed the advice!). To do 2 games, also play The WorstAdvice…

Fill In The Hymn — Get phrases from some favorite old hymns and leave out the words. Participants either call out the answer to fill in the phrase, or write them down. When someone gets one right, they get a prize. Or if writing them down, whoever gets the most right gets a prize. Or whoever turns their answers in firstand gets them all right wins. Other fill-in elderly games can include psalms, well-known scripture, and famous sayings or idioms.

Name That Musical Instrument — Very 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.

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, but you can also devise your own. Have several items from the store available that are familiar to your group 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 music, 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 guess prices, and also as prizes.