January 21, 2019

Never underestimate the power of a good game!

For seniors, playing fun, low-impact brain games can be a great way to stay sharp and alert over time. In fact, studies have shown that older adults who regularly stimulate their brains with active, educational activities tend to score much higher on memory and cognition tests than those who don’t.

Playing a game with your senior loved one is a great way to keep your aging family member engaged, alert, and focused, helping to give their “mental muscles” a workout – while also showing them a great time!

And, in many ways, the togetherness and camaraderie that come with playing a game together may be just as important to your aging loved one’s health. It’s true! In fact, helping your senior loved ones remain socially active is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help them stay healthy for longer. Studies have shown that older adults who maintain strong social relationships have fewer chronic health conditions, experience greater longevity, and report a higher quality of life overall.

Spending a few hours laughing and joking around a table over a shared game is a great way to bring people together. Joining your loved one in playing a game or working on a shared goal is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. Playing a game together is a great way to get a nice conversation flowing more easily, and can even help bring generations together, as grandkids, parents, and grandparents all get to share in the experience as one.

So, what are some games perfect for helping everyone come together, while giving your elderly loved one the chance to sharpen their mind? Here are a few ideas worth trying out!

1.) Chess and Checkers

Chess is a remarkable game. The rules are deceptively straightforward and easy to learn, but the skills involved are immense. It’s easy to play chess for decades, and never truly stop learning the finer points of the game. Chess is all about strategy, problem-solving, and thinking on your feet, making it a great game to keep seniors engaged and mentally active, while also having fun. Checkers, a modified version of the game with fewer pieces and simpler rules, is also a great option. Even better? Manufacturers make chess and checkers sets in many different shapes and styles, including larger versions specifically designed for older adults, who may have less fine vision and motor skills.

2.) Word Games (Scrabble, Boggle, Crossword Puzzles, etc.)

Word games are fun and exciting, but they are also incredibly multi-faceted tools for sharpening our minds. Playing an active word game, like Scrabble or Boggle, is a great way to promote critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and memory. Even doing a more passive word puzzle together – like a crossword, or a wordsearch – is a great way to help older adults stay focused and improve their recall.

3.) Card Games (Bridge, Spades, etc.)

Card games are a great way think spontaneously, have fun, and enjoy one another’s company, and there are plenty of games that can work for any number of players, from two to ten or more. Many older adults grew up playing card games, so be sure to ask them what games they enjoy. Some older adults may prefer more active, thoughtful games, like bridge or poker. For others, it may be more fun to play a more straightforward game, like blackjack or war. Or, look into alternative card games that go beyond the traditional deck, such as Uno.

4.) Board Games (Chutes and Ladders, Connect Four, Othello, etc.)

Playing a board game is a great way to get lots of people involved at once. While some games may have too many moving pieces or rules for elderly players, simple and straightforward games can be a great way for older adults to get engaged and think strategically. Think about dice games like Yahtzee, or visual strategy games like Connect Four or Othello. If your senior can’t move their own pieces, this is a great way to get younger kids involved, as most will probably be more than happy to help out.

5.) Jigsaw Puzzles

A game doesn’t have to be competitive to be fun! Doing a jigsaw puzzle together can be a great way to get everyone on the same side, as everyone works together to achieve the same goal. Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to work on focus, concentration, and memory. They involve a lot of strategy, planning, problem-solving, and recall, without seeming stressful or overwhelming.

Now, we know this list list is far from complete. After all, every family is going to have unique traditions and games that they love. It’s a beautiful thing. We’d love to hear what activities you’d add to this list! If you’ve had any successes or memorable moments sharing a game with a senior loved one, be sure to let us know in the comments, or by dropping us a line on social media! We’re excited to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Companions for Seniors is Here to Help

Now, there will be times when you’d love to have your elderly loved one engaged and stimulated, but you can’t quite find the time to get to them. It happens to the best of us.

That’s where Companions for Seniors can help! Our trained and bonded companions are passionate about empowering the elderly to live more independently. Our mission is to help senior adults lead active and enriched lifestyles, by connecting them with their community and nurturing meaningful relationships.

Our companions are available on flexible schedules to spend time with the senior in your life. Whether your loved one needs transportation services, a helping hand around the house, or just a friendly face to play games and swap stories, our caregivers can help give your senior loved one the personalized attention and support they need – while giving family caregivers a much-needed chance to rest and recharge.

Have any questions? Curious about how to set up a personalized care plan for the aging adult in your life? Be sure to drop us a line today to get the conversation started!