Seniors playing a card game.

7 Fun Memory Games for Seniors with Dementia

Dementia is a serious cognitive disorder, but helping with it isn’t necessarily all stoic and boring. Games are one enjoyable way to help seniors with dementia by promoting cognitive engagement. Studies show that cognitive games can help with dementia patients’ memory, executive function, general cognition, problem-solving, and communication.

Another huge plus for seniors with dementia playing games is that it encourages social engagement, as well. Although there are several excellent solo cognitive games, many of these are enjoyable for two or more players. As you may know, social connections are incredibly vital, especially for seniors.

Memory games are a fun, low stakes way to stimulate the brain and encourage cognitive function. Games are also much more approachable than serious conversations or medical tests. Playing together is a great way to encourage your loved ones to relax with company.

How Memory Games Can Help with Dementia

Living in our current technological age means that there are many high-tech approaches to gaming and memory care. However, analog games also have an incredible number of cognitive benefits for seniors! A recent study shows that board games can decrease cognitive decline between the ages of 70-79.

Interestingly, the risk of developing dementia is 15% lower for board game players than for non-gamers. When researchers adjust for mental state and depression, this number is less significant. However, board game players still show a noticeably lower incidence of depression than non-players.

7 Memory Games for Dementia Patients

1. Classic Card and Board Games

Sometimes the best answers are the simplest solutions. Classic board and card games are an excellent approach to gaming for seniors with dementia! Most have few pieces, simple rules, and are popular enough to be familiar.

This is one case where it’s okay to use children’s materials. Children’s board games, like Sorry or Chutes and Ladders, are quick to play and don’t include lengthy instruction lists.

Cards are always great to have on hand because of their infinite possibilities. If you are a frequent caretaker for someone with dementia, it might be time to learn the rules of some older card games. Many seniors enjoy games like Bridge, Canasta, and Hearts.

2. Bingo

Yes, it’s a classic of an assisted living community—and for good reason! Bingo is familiar, timeless, and simple. The numbers are usually large print, so seniors with visual impairments shouldn’t struggle. Bingo is also a great social game!

3. Jigsaw Puzzles

Puzzles rely on visual memory, pattern recognition, and problem solving. They are another great choice for social activity, particularly if your loved one lives with others. Puzzles are also easily accessible in a wide variety of sizes and difficulties and are relatively inexpensive.

Hands playing backgammon.

4. Matching Games

The concept of matching games may seem infantile, but many companies now offer beautiful versions of the classic. Many websites and apps also provide more age-appropriate matching games.

5. Word Puzzles

Games like crosswords, word searches, and Scrabble can lead to improved cognitive skills. They’re also a great workout for the brain! Word recall is a skill that frequently declines with age, so it’s important to stretch that muscle.

6. Dice Games

Another great mental workout is dice games. These can be as simple as Yahtzee or as classic as Backgammon. Calculation and numerical skills often decline with dementia, so this is another important skill to practice.

7. Apps

We’ve already mentioned finding matching games on apps. Smartphones can be a great source of easily accessible memory games. For seniors with depression, it’s important to note that disruptions like ads can be upsetting. Finding simple games with minimal ads and interruptions is best.

Dementia, Memory Games, and Memory Care

Boosting cognitive skills in seniors with dementia is an excellent approach to reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Whether you’re working formally or informally in memory care, it’s important to treat the whole person. They are not just their disease.

Part of caring for our residents’ whole selves is having fun with them! For seniors with dementia, memory games can unite these values.

Research demonstrates that playing games within a group setting can boost their cognitive benefits. From crosswords to bingo to board games, we see the truth of this every day at The Moments. We’re committed to providing unparalleled memory care.

Published On: March 28, 2024