From children to senior citizens, everyone loves a board game. That’s why many of our Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care communities across the country offer activity centers or game rooms where residents can challenge their neighbors or visitors to a friendly competition.
Games may be very entertaining for seniors, their friends and their children and grandchildren, but they also have major health benefits such as relieving stress and combating memory loss and depression. A British Medical Journal study notes that the risk of dementia was 15 percent lower in board game players than in non-players. Board games can enhance memory formation and help exercise cognitive skills. A lot of games also tend to be low stress and can be calming, helping lower blood pressure. In many instances, games require some coordination and hand dexterity, which can be important for aging adults.
There are plenty of games out there, and selecting the perfect one for you and your senior can be difficult. But we’ve narrowed it down to a few of the classics while adding in a few that are modern so you can be nostalgic and create new memories. Each game requires a different skill and offers various levels of entertainment and health benefit.
Chances are, you’ve played these games as a child because most have been around for a long time. The benefit of classic games is that they are well-known, often played and easily accessible. The learning curve tends to be non-existent, and a simple refresher course on rules is a lot easier than explaining a brand-new game.
- Cards: A deck of cards provides an array of games to enjoy, from Go Fish to poker and everything in-between. A standard deck offers 52 playing cards with four suites.
- Scrabble: Scrabble is a great game that requires critical thinking and blends it with the entertainment of a word puzzle. Enjoy the clack of tiles as you pass on your vocabulary to your grandchildren — and learn theirs. This game is especially fun for seniors who enjoy crossword puzzles and word searches.
- Chess and Checkers: Everyone has some experience with one or both of these games of wit. Chess and checkers are great games to play with the elderly. Both games are easy to learn and highlight creative problem-solving and strategy as fundamental portions of the game.
- Monopoly: This timeless board game of fast deals and property trading is a classic for sure at 8 years old, no matter what pieces are included now. The game has undergone minimal changes in its lifespan, with the most recent one ousting the boot, wheelbarrow and thimble for a T-Rex, rubber ducky and penguin. Remember fighting over the Scottie, hat, car, cat and battleship?
Modern Board Games
Although classics can be fun, it’s important to mix it up with something new. Board games have had a resurgence in the last decade, and a new collection is just waiting to be discovered. The good news is a majority of modern games feature rules similar to classic games while putting a fun new spin on them.
- Ticket to Ride: Ticket to Ride is an award-winning game where players collect color-coded cards to claim train routes and connect one city to another. The game features the competitive fun of Monopoly with simple rules that will have you chugging along to famous cities in the U.S. or across the country. Ticket to Ride uses replica maps of real countries, which can inspire memories of past travels.
- Suspend: Similar to Jenga, Suspend takes the same concept and replaces stacking blocks with a series of metal rods. This game is fun to play with the whole family and blends creative problem-solving and fine motor skills.
- Incan Gold: Take classic card games such as poker and blackjack, add Indiana Jones and you’ll get Incan Gold. Travel to an ancient temple and collect treasures along the way, but make sure you make your escape before traps close in on you. This luck-based game exercises creativity and critical problem-solving.
- Qwirkle: Qwirkle is a tile-placement game where players match colors and shapes, just like dominoes or Uno. The game uses pattern recognition, basic mathematics and strategy to exercise the brain, keeping it happy and healthy.
The most important thing to remember with any game is to have a good time. Have patience when teaching your senior loved one a new game.
**This blog post has been edited and reposted.
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