Sit down games for senior citizens can bring multiple benefits and keep you both physically and mentally active. Aging does not mean a loss of vitality. As we grow older, it is important to engage in activities that are both beneficial and enjoyable.
As a general rule, sit down games for senior citizens can be played independently or as a group. Sit down games for senior citizens typically include board games, brain games, card games and puzzles. Such games have an important role in improving memory, vocabulary cognition and physical mobility.
This article includes some of the best ideas for sit down games for senior citizens. Of course, sit down games are beneficial for all stages of life. However, during retirement, they are especially recommended for their enormous benefits.
We have identified 8 categories of sit down games for senior citizens and have grouped the games to help you browse our list easily:
- Games to Improve Cognitive Skills
- Games to Improve Vocabulary
- Games to Improve Concentration
- Games to Improve Memory
- Games to Improve Problem Solving Skills
- Fun Activities and Free Games for Seniors
- Games to Improve Physical Mobility
- Socially Distance Games for Seniors
All of the games included on this list require a low level of activity. As a result, most seniors can participate in the activities listed below, regardless of their physical ability.
Read on to find out more about the best sit down games for senior citizens.
Games to Improve Cognitive Skills
In adulthood, cognitive stimulation is essential. It helps older people to maintain and even improve cognitive abilities.
As we age, it is essential to delay the deterioration of cognitive functions. Keeping mentally active will help ensure a better quality of life through aging.
One way of achieving this is playing games which promote short term memory. Board games for seniors are a great option to support brain training. Here are some suggestions:
Number Games for Seniors
The ability to calculate and manipulate number deteriorates greatly with the passage of time and with prolonged disuse. As a Teacher, I am acutely aware of this and regularly practise my mental math skills by adding up my shopping before check-out at the till.
However, there are many brain training games to promote mental agility which are quick to set up and inexpensive to play.
Sudoku is one of the world’s most popular logic puzzles. The goal of this game is to complete a 9 x 9 grid with numbers so that each row, column, and 3 x 3 section contains all of the digits between 1 and 9.
Playing brain games like Sudoku daily can boost your concentration and improve memory skills.
You can easily find online games of Sudoku or purchase inexpensive books full of these puzzles. If you’re at that stage of life when you’d like large print, check out this selection of Sudoku books at reasonable prices.
Group games like Rummikub are also a great way of exercising mental skills. In this game, you take turns to place numbered tiles in runs or groups. The game reinforces pattern recognition, sequencing and involves strategy.
Rummikub is fun and fast-paced with easy game play. If you haven’t played this before, check out this link.
Monopoly is an all-time popular board game in which the objective is to become a property tycoon. It is a fun game that helps preserve number skills and promotes social skills.
The game consists of a game board which players’ pieces travel around. Each player can buy or sell property. They will also encounter other random events that determine their financial fate. Click here to experience this enjoyable game of luck and skill.
Games to Improve Vocabulary
If numbers are important, words are no less important. One of the most common effects of neurodegenerative diseases is the loss of vocabulary and a decreasing ability to express ourselves. Fortunately, there are many games to prevent language deterioration.
Crosswords are a great way of maintaining good word recall and expanding your existing vocabulary. You are never too old to increase the range of language you use and to learn the meaning of new words.
Crosswords are a fun way of expanding your vocabulary and using your existing bank of words. Personally, I enjoy solving the clues of crosswords. They make you think and stretch your mind.
However, if you are fed up with getting stuck, don’t despair! You can get a helping hand from an electronic crossword solver.
This Franklin Crossword Solver is easy to use and would also make a great gift for a friend who loves crosswords. This electronic aid increases your word knowledge and solves puzzle blockages!
5. Word Searches
Word searches are another popular way of keeping your mind active. As a Teacher, I use word searches in my classroom all the time to expand young children’s vocabulary and to improve their spelling. However, did you realize that word searches also have multiple benefits for senior citizens?
Firstly, word searches are enjoyable. Secondly, word searches emphasize pattern recognition which is a key cognitive tool.
Pattern recognition helps us to order and make meaning of data around us. Word searches also expand our vocabulary. When we complete one, we feel a motivational sense of achievement.
The great thing about word searches is that they relate to every imaginable topic and interest! So, whatever you are into, you can find a book of word searches that is perfect for you.
Alternatively, you can buy a book of general word searches which cover many different themes. Did you know that you can even buy word search books with large print? Click here to find out more:
If you haven’t played Wordplay, you must! Wordplay is a fast-paced game because everyone can play at the same time without waiting for a turn. It is a great way of recalling vocabulary which is linked to categories.
A spinner decides the letters and category for each round. If the category is ‘Places’ and the letters are B and N, you write down all the places you can think of which start with B and contain and N. For example, these could include Boston. What else can you think of?
If you’d like to try this entertaining game with friends, click here for more details.
Scrabble is a classic word game that appeals to older adults and young people alike. In fact, Scrabble is the perfect game to play with everyone in the family, no matter their age.
For seniors, Scrabble is a board game which exercises the mind as you decide how to place your letter tiles to make words. Of course, game play becomes more complex as the board fills with letter tiles. Scrabble is great brain training as you need to compute where to put your letters to make words and for maximum points scoring!
I really like this Scrabble set as it has a wheeled game board. This simple addition means that no-one must crane their necks or read the tiles and words upside down! This is such a great idea as it makes it easier to read the board and more comfortable to play, especially as you get older!
Taboo is another word game that stimulates cognitive function in terms of language. Taboo is a simple game once players master some basic rules.
In short, players split into two teams. Each turn, a different player receives a card with a keyword. This player must try to explain to the team what is on their card without using any of the popular associated phrases on their card. The winning team is the one that scores the most correct guesses within a certain time.
If you love a laugh and are looking for a game which promotes use of language, click here.
Pictionary is one of the best sit down games for senior citizens. It helps with the development of language skills, hand-eye coordination, and creativity. Above all, it’s fun to play!
Like Taboo, the players divide into two or more teams. Each turn, a person receives a card with a keyword or phrase. In this game, however, they must draw something related to the keyword or phrase for their team to guess. The team that scores the most correct guesses after a set time wins the game.
If you want to get creative, don’t delay and order today so that you can start enjoying the benefits of this game.
Games to Improve Concentration
Bingo is one of the most exciting sit down games for senior citizens. It is a game of luck plus it has a competitive edge.
In this game, each player receives a card or several cards. Each card contains a 5 x 5 grid with 24 random numbers from 1 to 75.
When the game begins, a designated player rolls a tumbler or shakes a bag with tokens that contain every number. They then draw one token and call out the number. Alternatively, you can impress your friends with this Deluxe Bingo calling set that includes a hand-cranked spherical Bingo cage to spin!
The rest of the players must check their card or cards, mark the called number if it is present, and continue with the next number draw. The round ends when a player has filled a line of numbers and shouts Bingo!
Games to Improve Memory
Short term memory is another faculty which sadly diminishes with age. Try out some of these suggestions to improve your concentration and keep your mind sharp.
11. Matching Games for Seniors with Playing Cards
Matching games or Pelmanism games are perfect sit down games for senior citizens as they can improve short term memory. Although you can buy matching games, it is easy to set up a game with an ordinary deck of playing cards.
Firstly, take a deck of playing cards and place them face down in 4 rows and 13 columns. To start playing, the first player simply picks up two random cards from the deck. If the two cards have different numbers, the player returns those cards face down in the same place and it is the other player’s turn.
However, if they are a matching pair, the player keeps them and has another go. The object of the game is to get as many pairs of cards as possible, which will determine the winner.
Games to Improve Problem-Solving Skills
12. Jigsaw Puzzles
I love jigsaw puzzles! There is something very satisfying about placing the very last piece in its place. I also love the fact that puzzles take time and that you re-create a picture from interlocking pieces.
In addition to being enjoyable, jigsaw puzzles are a calm activity which exercise both sides of the brain at once. This is great for older people.
Making decisions about where to place each piece exercises logic and problem-solving skills. This problem solving takes time, so jigsaw puzzles also increase attention span. At the same time, jigsaw puzzles exercise the creative side of your brain as you re-construct an image.
Jigsaw puzzles also improve short term memory which makes them perfect sit down games for senior citizens. When you sit down and start to complete a jigsaw puzzle, connections in the brain are reinforced and mental speed increases over time.
Did you know that jigsaw puzzles can also improve visual-spatial reasoning? As you complete a jigsaw puzzle, you must look at individual puzzle pieces carefully and decide how and where they fit in a bigger image. We use visual-spatial reasoning skills for many life skills including tying shoes and reading a map!
Finally, jigsaw puzzles are a great way of relieving stress and lowering blood pressure. Like meditation, jigsaw puzzles require you to focus on one thing for a lengthy period which pushes out any other unwanted thoughts. In fact, studies have shown that people who do jigsaw puzzles have longer life spans!
Jigsaw puzzles come with different numbers of pieces, so it is easy to find something suitable for everyone. The higher the number of pieces, the more difficult the puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles are also another perfect activity for multi-generational play. Get puzzling today and start feeling the benefits with this selection of 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles!
Clue is a classic tabletop board game that is fun for everyone from young adults to seniors. In this game, a murder mystery is set. Every player must try to guess some key facts: Who did it? Where did they do it? Which murder weapon did they use?
To help solve the crime, each player receives cards linked to characters, locations, and murder weapons. On their turn, players must try to narrow down the options to help them guess the correct combination.
Clue is an exciting game for all ages which develops and hones deductive skills. If you haven’t played this before, click on the link to learn more.
Of course, no list of board games would be complete without the timeless game of chess! Chess is perhaps the best strategy game of all time. It is a game that has changed little if anything over the hundreds of years it has been around.
In this game for two players, you control an army of 15 pieces and a King. The objective of the game is to use your turns wisely to capture the other player’s army and defeat their King.
If you have never played Chess, it’s never too late to learn. I have just started playing and am enjoying the challenge. Check out this chess board and pieces:
15. Card Games for Seniors
A deck of cards (or two) could be the most versatile item to have when it comes to sit down games for senior citizens. The number of games that can be played from a single deck of cards is almost endless.
Among the many games you could play, here are some suggestions from the most to least conventional:
- Play 5-card Poker
- Play Texas Hold’em Poker
- Play “Go Fish”
- Play Bridge
- Play Blackjack
- Play High-low
- Play “War”
- Build a Castle of Cards
- Throw the Cards like Darts
- Learn Magic Tricks
- Learn Cardistry (the ability to manipulate a deck of cards)
Fun Activities and Free Games for Seniors
The following activities are also fun and free to play without the need for expensive items.
16. Guess the Name of a Song and Artist
Whatever your age, music evokes many beneficial emotions. In fact, music is often used as a therapy because of its powerful effects. However, for older people, music is a great way to trigger memories and reminisce about the past through conversation.
Guessing the name of songs is an easy and enjoyable game to prepare. Think about popular songs of your times or your favorite songs and record them. You can ask friends to do the same.
When you are together, play a short piece of one of the songs and then ask the others to guess what song it is and who sings it. Enjoy reminiscing whilst you listen to the songs!
One of the cheapest ways to store your songs is on a playlist via one of the popular streaming apps. If you are looking to upgrade your cell phone, visit Amazon to check out their latest deals.
17. Eye Spy
Eye Spy is another easy sit down game for senior citizens. You can play as a pair or as part of a larger group.
One of the members of the group chooses an object they can see and says the letter it starts with using the phrase: “I spy with my little eye something beginning with (add letter)”. The other participants call out possible objects until they identify the correct one.
The person who chooses the object can give clues and information about the position of the object if the other participants are unable to guess it.
18. What Does it Smell Like?
This is a sensory game that consists of putting a series of objects and substances in different containers. One person is then blindfolded and must guess what the object or substance is by smelling it.
There are endless possible objects and substances to choose from. How about coffee, cinnamon, or a rose? These little leakproof containers are perfect for playing this game and handing around.
19. Simon Says
Simon Says is one of those games for seniors that is best played between three or more people. One of the participants is “Simon” and directs the action. The others must do what “Simon” says.
The trick is listening out for the magic phrase, “Simon says”. If “Simon says wave”, the players must wave, or they are out. If Simon simply says “wave”, they must not wave, or they will be eliminated.
This game is a fun way of keeping active with some gentle movements. The great thing about this game is that it can be played sitting down or in a wheelchair.
20. Chained Words
This game consists of stringing words together in such a way that the last letter of one word is the beginning of the next. For example, autumn, narrow, weasel, ladder and so on.
This activity can be done individually or in a group, with each person saying or writing one word. It’s a great way of stimulating vocabulary and exercising the brain. All you need are pens and paper!
21. Make a Puzzle of Sayings
Popular sayings, idioms and proverbs are peculiar to wherever you live. Examples include ‘piece of cake’, ‘break a leg’, ‘you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs’ and so on.
First, write or type these sayings on paper and then cut them up in half or into separate words if you’re feeling like a challenge! The idea of the game is to reassemble the pieces to form the correct saying.
This game can be played in pairs or as a group. In fact, it’s fun to start by brainstorming as many different sayings as possible. Some proverbs may still be in use whilst others may be less commonly used now.
My grandmother always used to say, “A stitch in time saves nine”. Do you recognize this one?
22. Each Sheep with its Partner
This is one of those fun games for seniors that encourages thinking and association. It is also very simple to set up and play. Basically, place various objects that belong to different categories on a tabletop.
The idea is that participants must group objects together which belong to the same category or are connected in some way. Encourage participants to explain why they have grouped things together. Any small objects can be used to play this game which is great for spontaneity.
23. Guess What’s in the Bag
This is a great game that is best played in teams. To play, you need a bag that does not allow you to see what is inside.
Basically, a mystery object is placed inside the bag. The first participant must describe the mystery object by touching it. The objective of the rest of the group is to guess what the object is.
This game enables older people to smile and have fun as guesses don’t always match the big reveal! It also requires participants to describe an object using a range of vocabulary and synonyms.
Games to Improve Physical Mobility
In addition to including a series of fun games for seniors, we could not forget writing about physical games for seniors.
Physical activity in adulthood is very important and has well-known benefits. By playing fun physical games, you can:
- Develop your physical dexterity and mental agility.
- Rekindle curiosity, imagination and creativity.
- Improve self-esteem and a feeling of wellbeing.
- Develop leadership and teamwork skills.
- Integrate with other generations.
- Find companionship and camaraderie.
Generally, seniors who are active have more energy and enjoy better health than seniors who are sedentary. For these reasons, here are some ideas of physical games for seniors that you can play to improve your well-being.
As we age, it is important for us to work not only on our gross psychomotor skills (large body movements), but also on our fine psychomotor skills (dexterity). One ideal game to practise these skills is Jenga.
Jenga is a popular tower-building game which is traditional and bags of fun! The object of Jenga is remove a block from the tower and then place it on top. The last player to place a piece without knocking down the tower wins the game. Only one hand can be used to remove and place a block.
Jenga is not as simple as it sounds! If you’re not careful, the tower will come tumbling down much to the amusement of everyone else.
This is another great game to play with the whole family. We have often played Jenga with four generations of our family and everyone had fun from great grandchildren to great grandparents! If you are looking for a game that unites the entire family, click here.
25. Compass Game
In this simple physical and recreational game, there is one person who leads the group. He or she calls out a cardinal point and then the participants must point with their fingers where that point is located.
For example, if “south” is called out, you must point in that direction. Whoever does not guess correctly is eliminated from the game. The game ends when there is only one player left. For a challenge, try using 16 points of a compass!
26. Shooting Hoops
This game seeks to improve strength, dexterity, and vision. To play this game, marks are drawn on the floor that correspond to different scores (e.g., 2, 4, and 5 points).
The game consists of throwing 5 small hoops or quoits at the marks and then counting the points obtained. To add difficulty, the distance between the marks could be increased or the hoop could be thrown with the other arm.
It is best to start this game with light-weight hoops or quoits. We found this pack of 12 durable plastic rings which are ideal:
27. Playing Darts
Darts is a traditional and fun game for seniors to play. In addition, it brings an element of competitiveness which everyone likes. Throwing darts at a dartboard is also a great way to improve your pulse, strength, and eyesight.
To avoid risks, magnetic or Velcro dartboards can be used. In this way, light-weight sticky balls can be thrown instead of darts. Check out this large dartboard set as an ideal example.
28. Ball Games
Ball games bring many benefits to the elderly. The other great thing is that you can buy balls in many different shapes, sizes, and weights to mix things up and to suit the dexterity of the players.
In general, smaller balls require more dexterity to catch. This foam ball is easy to manipulate and is a great choice.
The suggestion for this ball game is a paired activity in which participants sit or stand facing each other. The game starts with participants passing the ball to each other between both hands without dropping it.
To add variety and difficulty, distance can be increased. Alternatively, add additional actions. For example, the participant needs to touch his/her ear, elbow, or knee before receiving the ball. You can also vary the type of pass, e.g., underarm thrown, chest pass or overarm.
29. Pretend to be a Mirror
This game is performed in pairs and laughter is assured. One participant must imitate the actions of the other. The movements should have some degree of complexity, although it is best to start with simple movements.
My class absolutely love playing this game. I use it to gain their attention. However, it’s a great way of improving concentration for seniors and gently exercises your body depending on the movements you choose.
30. Moving Statues
This game is used to exercise memory. One person stands still like a statue in front of the rest of the participants. After the group has memorized their posture, they turn their backs on the statue.
Meanwhile, the statue changes its position. The participants turn around to observe the statue’s new position and must guess what has changed.
31. The Game of Petanque
The popular French game of Petanque is undoubtedly a classic. It is a game that is different every time you play. What’s more, you need very little equipment to enjoy this game and it can be played outdoors.
First, someone throws a small ball on a Petanque court (an area of gravel, sand or grass) and then participants throw larger balls to try to get as close as possible to the small ball.
Petanque is played in turns and is a team game where you are assured of laughter, competition, and moderate exercise.
Traditionally, Petanque is played with metal balls, but you can opt for lighter-weight plastic balls. Amazon have a great selection of both types of Petanque balls at very competitive prices.
Socially Distanced Games for Seniors
As we are all aware, the last few years have changed the way people interact. Having to maintain social distance has separated people from family and friends.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Until we regain total normality, there are many socially distanced games which are worth trying out. This is where online games come into their own.
There are a huge variety of online games. Online games can be played individually, or you can connect with friends and family. Here are a few suggestions:
Classic games always win. Online Trivia is a great alternative to playing the board game. Quiz games like Trivia help to maintain memory and quick reflexes. For most players, it also helps develop a sense of achievement and pride through players demonstrating their wide array of knowledge.
33. Memory & Strategy Games
Whether on your mobile or via your browser, you can play memory and strategy games to keep your brain skills at peak performance. How about Mahjong, Solitaire or Checkers?
Is there any other game more long-lasting and fun than Parcheesi? Nowadays, there are a wide choice of Parcheesi boards with many different themes and styles. Furthermore, you now have the option of playing remotely thanks to apps on your cell phone.
35. Escape Room
Have you ever tried an online escape room game? They are just as entertaining as the usual ones. Most online escape rooms lack the ‘scary’ element of most live escape rooms, so they are fun and safe to try.
Chess is one game for seniors that exercises memory, problem-solving skills, and dexterity. Technology now also makes it possible to play remotely, so there’s no excuse to get started!
The Importance of Games for Senior Citizens
As children, we don’t think about anything. We just play. It is through play that we learn as the hours fly by. Did you know that games for adults are equally or more important than for children?
Activities such as Dominoes, Card Games, Bingo, or Parcheesi stimulate mental agility and encourage social participation. This is why sit down games for senior citizens are so enriching.
Playing games is one of the best tools to keep your cognitive capacity and physical skills in good shape.
Besides, they are a great excuse to share pleasant afternoons with your family and friends. They will provide a source of healthy competitiveness and so many laughs and moments to remember.
Health Benefits of Sit Down Games for the Elderly
Maintaining good mental health during retirement through games and activities is essential. Cognitive impairment increases memory loss, alters the ability to reason and affects character changes in the elderly, among other issues.
Games have many benefits for everyone, from childhood through youth and adult life, as well as for older adults:
- They improve cognitive and mental development.
- They teach cooperation and underpin values.
- They promote problem-solving and strategy skills.
- They enrich family relationships.
- They foster patience and concentration.
- They teach logic, reasoning, reading and mathematics skills.
- They increase the capacity for deduction, memorization, and attention.
- They help stimulate the senses.
For these reasons, we hope you can see the benefit of playing sit down games for senior citizens well into retirement. Whether you play games by yourself, with friends, or with your loved ones, games are essential to slow cognitive decline. On top of that, you will have a lot of fun playing whichever game you choose!