Best Board Games for Dementia Patients

For many people, dementia disease has a scary image. While this disease has its own challenges, it shouldn’t mean the world has come to an end for its patients. 

Yes, dementia can be scary. But there are still fun activities you can do as a patient. A variety of board games are available for dementia patients, many of them so enjoyable!

By focusing on a task or puzzle for a long time, the patient can engage, enjoy, and benefit from interactions with family, friends, or caregivers. Playing games is an excellent way to maintain meaningful relationships and keep an active mind.

Why Do We Need Games for Seniors With Dementia?

Scientific studies have shown that the more physically and mentally active a person with Dementia is over time, the slower the progression of the disease will be. For someone with Dementia, keeping a healthy lifestyle as well as stimulating their minds is essential. 

Dr. Anik Guimond of Montréal’s Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie urges us to exercise our brains using brain games and activities, which is an excellent way to stay engaged and have a nice time with a loved one.

Often, the games initially designed for children can help with dementia. These children’s games can provide the right level of stimulation without becoming too complicated or frustrating.

One of the most popular genres is probably word games for seniors that can help prevent dementia

Two senior woman playing a brain game

Games Promote Socialization; Socialization Promotes Better Health

There are many reasons why playing games can help dementia patients, but one main reason stands out: Games are a great way to socialize and interact with others.

As seniors go through this crucial transition in their lives, regular socialization and engaging activities will help them keep their minds sharp. Dementia patients often experience loneliness and social isolation, which are as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

As a result of playing games with friends, a person feels less isolated and lonely. Seniors who interact with others, regardless of whether they have Dementia or not, can develop a greater sense of self-worth and improve their overall quality of life. Also, socialization helps maintain the mental health of seniors

Creating structure

A sense of structure and normalcy can be found in games.

An individual with Dementia needs a routine in order to live a fulfilling life. The gradual decline in cognitive abilities can make individuals feel increasingly frustrated as Dementia progresses. Some cases may cause undesirable behaviours like restlessness, agitation, and even aggression as a result.

Routines give seniors a sense of security and familiarity by scheduling specific times throughout the day for play and other generic activities. They get much-needed stability when feeling confused or disoriented when they have a day-to-day structure. It is important to keep in mind that these routines do not need to be rigid. Instead, focus on consistency rather than rigidity.

Although most forms of Dementia are irreversible, these are some ways that games can help slow down the decline of one’s cognitive abilities.

 

Games Dementia Patients Need to Avoid

While many games can help those with dementia keep their minds sharp, there are also other games they need to avoid because they might make things harder on patients. Here is a list of games we do not recommend for dementia patients: 

Can Word Games Improve Memory?

Complex Games

There are plenty of games that are designed to frustrate even skilled players. Games with many pieces, such as Chess, are not suitable for those with Dementia.

Electronic Games

Playing simple video games or apps with grandchildren could be enjoyable for older adults. However, those fiddly console controllers or any technical problems (e.g., game crashes or power loss) will cause everyone unnecessary issues. Therefore, we recommend playing classic, reliable games.

Time-Based Games

You shouldn’t place too much pressure on loved ones to make a move, take a turn, or think about the task at hand when playing games together. Let them be free to play at their own pace.

Senior woman playing scrabble with a young woman

Top Games for Seniors With Dementia

Unlike previous game categories that could put older adults with dementia in hard situations, the following games stimulate their brains and keep them mentally sharp. Here are our top five recommended games that help with dementia:

read here: games to prevent dementia

  1. Jigsaw Puzzles

As long as all the pieces are present, jigsaw puzzles are always a good idea. It is often possible to find smaller-sized puzzles that can fit neatly on a small table or even in the puzzle box that will not take too much time to solve. A jigsaw puzzle can be very satisfying to complete and is very straightforward for any age group. You can easily find a jigsaw puzzle with pleasant pictures that provides hours of enjoyment.

  1. Dominoes

Black and white dominoes are ideal for senior patients because of their unique and straightforward design. Aside from that, the pieces are usually of a good size, so they are easy to handle and move around. Dominoes are suitable for keeping an active mind and having fun because they work with a theory that most people already know or can understand very quickly.

  1. Card Games

You can play countless games with cards, and you should familiarize yourself with at least one of them, no matter what your age is. If possible, avoid games that require you to lie or trick your opponent. Play some simple and fun games, like Snap, to keep everyone entertained. Large-sized cards and specialized holders are available in shops to make handling the cards easier.

  1. Bingo

Because of its simplicity combined with the right level of mental stimulation, Bingo has always been one of the most effective games to help with the daily management of Dementia. Bingo temporarily improves patients’ condition by increasing alertness and concentration. It’s a fun activity involving many people in a care home, bringing them together to improve relationships within the facility. Additionally, if patients struggle with numbers, the gameplay can replace almost anything from food to objects.

  1. Snakes and Ladders

Playing this childhood favourite with adults and children is a great way to combine fun and cognitive activity. You can play snakes and ladders in many forms, but the pre-school version has bright colours and large pieces. Having a large board makes handling the pieces easier and ensures the board is visible.

Play With a Routine

An individual with Dementia needs a routine in order to live a fulfilling life. The gradual decline in cognitive abilities can make individuals feel increasingly frustrated as Dementia progresses. Some cases may cause undesirable behaviours like restlessness, agitation, and even aggression.

Routines give seniors a sense of security and familiarity by scheduling specific times for play and other generic activities throughout the day. They get much-needed stability when feeling confused or disoriented when they have a day-to-day structure. It is important to keep in mind that these routines do not need to be rigid. Instead, focus on consistency rather than rigidity.

The Bottom Line

Patients with dementia need activities that keep their minds active while providing fun. Playing games is probably the best activity of that kind. There are some unbelievable benefits of games that prove how playing can improve your mental status. Games can help people with dementia; games can help you.

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Source sovahealthcare Graying With Grace
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Phyllis
Phyllis
2 months ago

Not sure about games… It was beyond my mom’s abilities anyway. The overall goal for treating your beloved dementia patient is to enjoy what time you have left, to make it pleasant and memorable. Just remember, you are treating them the way you hope others will one day treat you….
I guess it’s not about an activity; it’s about creating a comfortable space. In the late stage of my mother’s disease, just being present was enough. Sometimes we watched TV together, sometimes I read to her, and sometimes she was so mentally unavailable that we just sat together in silence.

Olivia
Olivia
2 months ago

My personal experience so far is that games do help. My mom is still in the early stages of dementia, and I have many friends whose parents are late or have passed from this damn disease. It changes everything time I feel I know what I’m dealing with. My mom has changed, and she’s still in the early stages…
when we play, she is happy and calm, not that she knows the rules or care. I don’t care, either. Other times, she is bitter and angry. First, anger was at herself. Then to the caregivers, I brought in to assist.…

Lucas
Lucas
2 months ago

Here’s the thing about playing games with folks who have dementia: Rules don’t matter anymore; the way something is “supposed to be done” doesn’t matter anymore. So anything your beloved once enjoyed doing, they will enjoy again, as long as you understand, accept the idea that rules don’t matter; what matters is that your loved one is engaged and calm.
One of my favorite activities is to get a group of the men around a table and play cards. Not a one of them can actually play any particular card game anymore- according to the rules and strategy, anyway- but it doesn’t matter. They’re happy, I’m happy.

Tyra
Tyra
2 months ago

Thank you for sharing these great board games with us. Here’s another suggestion. Stone Soup is also worth a try. This board game requires players to work together to cook soup with the right ingredients. The game will help older adults develop social skills, solve problems, and memorize as they play. Teamwork and cooperation are also promoted.

Hannah
Hannah
2 months ago

Oh, the sweet game of snake and ladders!! All my childhood memories came flooding back to me. During our childhood, before the advent of electronic devices, this was the only hobby we had. I’m glad to see my favourite game on this list. 🙂

Hugo
Hugo
2 months ago

I’ve just bought the Marble Maze. It’s entertaining. You just need to tilt the maze with both hands to guide the marble around the track. Twist. Turn, Back-up. Repeat! It gives a sense of pride and excitement when you finish the game. Make sure you try it.