Elderly Games For Fun and Function

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. 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.

If you want ideas for outdoor games, see our page on outdoor elderly activities. (And some can be done indoors as well).

Here are elderly games that are sure to be fun and functional! And some will go nicely with our party theme ideas!

Elderly Games Suggestions

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.

How Old Are They? — Guessing is popular is elderly games. Here’s a fun one. Make a list of at least 20 famous people, either current or of yesteryear, in an age group that would be of interest to your participants. Ideas: movie stars, singers and musicians, prominent politicians, inventors, etc. (Some could also be deceased). Research can be done online. Have them guess their ages, or age they would be if still here. You can assign points for answers; i.e. 10 if correct, 5 if within 5 years, etc. The person(s) with the highest score(s) can win a prize, if desired. And if you know a celebrity’s birthday is that very day, have them guess who it might be. More points for the winner(s)!

Choose a Letter — Elderly games with words are popular, and this one works especially well if you have a theme at your get-together (but not necessary). We’ve done this at a luau. Choose 2 words that have several letters: i.e., Coconut, and Pineapple. Everyone writes them down. Then each person randomly chooses any letter from those words. Say, the letter N.

Now everyone stands up (or raises a hand). The leader tells everyone who chose a letter, like P, to sit down. Then those who chose the letter E must sit; then the letter N. All the various letters are called out until the last letter is called. Whoever chose that last letter and is still standing, wins a prize.

Make a game of exercise — We found it to be really fun! “Virtual “Travel” with Exercise! – This clever web site streams amazing scenery and sounds of exciting destinations from all over the world, so you feel like you’re “touring” while you exercise. Can be done in a chair too! Entertaining way to get fit, and perfect for seniors. They’re even offering a Free Trial! Visit them at Passport For Wellness.

Fact or Fiction — I love books about weird facts (get one from a library or order one online), and they make great games. They have enough material for many game sessions – with 10 to 20 weird statements. Pass out pens and paper, numbered according to number of your questions. Read a weird statement and ask participants if it’s Fact or Fiction. They write the answer on the appropriate line. At the end, read back the answers. Top winners get prizes.

….Good books include: “Weird-o-pedia,”  and “The Huge Book of Strange Facts.” Some good (True) statement questions: “Each American eats about 21 pounds of apples per year.” “Bananas can’t reproduce, so we may face a banana crisis.” “Brown glass bottles are better for beer than green or clear.” “Chocolate is better than kissing, for the mind and body.” “Humans can’t sneeze in their sleep.” “The deadliest creatures on earth are mosquitoes, with more deaths related to them than any other.” “There is a protein called, ‘I’m Not Dead Yet’. “

Topic Trivia — You can think up gazillions of trivia topics for this game. Play this in teams or individually; in a bus, at a party, around a table, any time. Keep score (your favorite way) or not. Write down answers, or not – perhaps just call them out for fun. Modify this according to your group.

Choose a topic – such as Heroes From Tales and Myths. Or Favorite Ice Cream Flavors. Or Musical Movies/Plays. Or Foods With Chocolate; etc. Each person or team writes (or calls out) as many answers as they can think of, within a given time frame. You can have winners, or just add lots of laughs to your elderly games.

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.

Botanical Identification Game — Field trips are always popular– even if it’s just right outside. And you can also include elderly games with them. Have a field trip to a botanical garden if you can, or even through a community garden with a leader who can name and discuss the various kinds of flowers and plants, and an interesting fact about each. Later, take a beverage and snack break.

Pass out paper and a pen to all. The leader then holds up a sample of 10 or so botanical specimens, depending on your group. Participants write down what it is, and/or a fact about it. Or talk about it aloud. Whoever gets the most right wins a prize. It’s best to tell the group ahead of time that there will be a game at the end, so they can be sure to pay attention. This is lots of fun for anyone who loves gardening or nature, and is also a good memory exercise.

Fall Leaves — There are many elderly activities to do with fall leaves. Start out by going out on a nice day around the yard, grounds, or a park. Bring a book on trees and leaves. The leader or guide can point out the various trees, tell something about them, and participants can gather leaves (it’s a good idea to bring a bag).

When you get back, play a memory game. Have the leader hold up various leaves and participants remember what trees they were from. Also try preserving leaves the old-fashioned way: Spread down newspapers. Then place leaves between 2 sheets of wax paper. Cover with newspapers, and iron until the leaves are coated with wax. The newspapers absorb the extra wax. Let them cool. Remove leaves, and use for decoupage projects, centerpieces, making garlands, or press between two sheets of clear contact paper to make place mats.

Bird Call Game — This goes along with learning to identify bird calls, which is fun all year round. (Inside during the winter). You can use a recording of bird calls from the library or from. Listen to the bird calls, about 5 to 8 at a time and become very familiar. After a few practices, turn it into a memory game and see who can identify them. Even more fun, go outdoors or look through a window in winter, and try to spot the birds. We did this with our grandpa when I was growing up and it was great fun. (No recordings – he just knew them all and taught us).

The Invention Game — The group leader will need to do a little online research in advance with this. Get about 25 common objects, especially old or vintage ones, and look up when they were invented. Ideas:  zipper in 1891, the bottle cap in 1892, candy corn in 1898, the thumbtack in 1900, the fly swatter in 1900, the hearing aid in 1902, the tea bag in 1903, the paper towel in 1907, the gin rummy game in 1909, the fortune cookie in 1914, the tow truck in 1916, the toaster in 1919, water skiing in 1922, the cheeseburger in 1924, masking tape in 1925, Kool-Aid in 1927, the corn dog in 1927, the electric razor in 1928, sunglasses in 1029, etc. Who’da thunk! Spread the items out on a table. Have people guess and write down what year they think. If you guess within 5 years, you get 10 points; within 10 years, 5 points. Or however you want to structure it. Elderly games can be really fun and also quite educational!

Chess the Easy Way – We learned of a way to easily learn to play chess, on your computer. Even if you don’t know how! It’s great for both beginners and advanced players. And they have a program where you can learn for free. Simple to ask questions too. Plus you can play against real people if you’d like. Check out Expert Chess Strategies.

Cognitive Video Games — Good elderly games are also out on video. Like excellent ones with individualized programs for cognitive fitness. You take a short assessment, then the program sets up your routine on the computer, and monitors progress, and responds to your current situation. They’re unique and individualized programs that can adjust as skills adjust. Based on scientifically designed tasks. There are many more fun video games available, and kids play them too, so make great teachers and partners!

Large Tic Tac Toe – One of the ever-popular elderly games is tic-tac-toe. An especially large game surface can be created by taking a white board either on a stand or set on a table or lap, and sectioning off the squares with bright tape, such as blue painter’s tape. This makes a permanent grid. The squares can be very large, even four or five inches across. Even those with visual impairment can play if the squares are large enough. Then erasable markers can be used for hours of fun. You can blow up a tic-tac-toe grid at a local printer, then trace mark it off onto your white board. You’ll get instant and easy perfect squares without the hassle of measuring.

Name That Tune — Musical elderly games are always a great favorite and this game is good for both the memory and mood. You can find music books for the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc. in music stores or online at Amazon.com if you want to order. Using recorded music works fine with this game, but of course it’s even more fun to have someone play the piano or guitar. Begin by playing 3 to 5 notes of the song, then pause and let participants call out the tune, if they can. Then add 3 more notes and pause, adding 3 notes each time until someone guesses. Prizes are always a hit!

I have a friend who plays piano at several nursing homes. Their favorite version is to play show tunes, then guess the show it was from, and who was in it! Needless to say, great for the memory.

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 Worst Advice…

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 first and 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.

Smile Toss GameElderly games can be excellent for bringing a smile to one’s face. This one is great on a dreary day or when the group needs a bit of cheer. Sit in a circle and toss a light-weight ball, or even a yellow balloon, with a smile painted on it (marker works too). 

Everyone in the circle smiles, except the person who is “IT” with the ball. If he/she forgets to wipe their smile off when they get the ball, they get points. The person with the least points wins. There are several versions of this game. It usually erupts in lots of laughs, so it’s very challenging to not smile! –

Using Kids’ Games and Toys — You may be familiar with the concept that young children’s toys and games are ideal for the elderly — being soft, large, easy to see and use. But keep in mind that many elderly, including those confined to nursing homes, still may have enough savvy or pride to feel an activity is demeaning, silly or “babyish” and may resist these. Although it is true that many educational toys and games for small children are also truly beneficial for seniors and can make great elderly games.

A great solution is to have your loved one, when possible, participate in a child’s activity with a child. That can include grandkids, someone else’s grandkids, or having young children from a local school or scout troop come and visit. Even older children are usually enthusiastic about playing “younger” games with the elderly, because they understand the goal.

Our Books!

Easy Crafts and Gifts –  Lots of quality crafts, with over 120 projects! PLUS, a booklet of FREE templates you can use for a variety of projects.

Ideas for any time of year, plus more for all of the seasons and holidays. 

Kindle Games Book!

  Are you looking for lots of elderly games? For the whole family, to do alone, or for groups. Lots of new games, plus many of those mentioned on our web site — all nicely organized so you don’t have to hunt all over. We have Holiday Games, Party Games, Mind Games, Dementia Games, Outdoor Games, and much more. (And you can read a Kindle book on your PC with a free download, without a Kindle device). See our Kindle page at the link.

About Games

Games for seniors are not only fun, but also very important to our brains. We discussed the important of our mental muscles on another page. Some of these mental factors include
Reason, Imagination and Memory.

Various games are geared to stimulate memory, promote focus and attention, relieve stress, encourage language skills and cognitive skills, etc. All while having lots of fun. Almost any type of game is valuable. There are also excellent elderly games on video to enjoy. And really fun to play with kids. Or be taught by kids!

Numerous studies have discussed the fact that genetics is only a portion (approximately a third) of what impacts our memories and brain function.

As we’ve discussed in our health, nutrition and dementia pages, other key factors include attitude, exercise, the foods we eat, sleep, medication, stress, and activities including elderly games – to name a few. So it’s important that seniors participate in as many activities as possible that promote healthy lifestyle.

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