Best Pen and Paper Games for Seniors

While many fun video games and apps bring out the fun in our daily lives, pen and paper games are classic activities that will never be replaceable.
There are two limitations to pen-and-paper games for seniors: the equipment and your imagination. As long as you have a piece of paper and a pen, things can get as fun, silly, or complex as you want them. Although these games are considered too simple for some people, there’s no denying that they are still one of the top games for seniors to entertain themselves.

Why Should We Play Pen and Paper Games?

Physically challenging games which require a lot of movement may not be appropriate for older adults. There are other ways for seniors to have fun and even enjoy the company of others, like playing pen and paper games. Many bookstores sell puzzle books containing a variety of brainteasers and relaxing activities that are excellent for seniors as well.

15 Best Pen and Paper Games for Seniors

Pen and paper games come in a huge variety, so choosing from them can be hard. That’s why we have gathered the 15 best pen and paper games to try for you:

Brain Games

Games requiring some thought are appropriate for older adults. Symbol-decoding games, crossword puzzles, and sudokus are all published in newspapers, or you can simply order a book full of them online. The games are suitable for older adults who still have a nimble mind and provide brain stimulation that might help improve a person’s cognitive functioning.

Senior man solving a crossword puzzle at the breakfast table

Word Search Games

Word search puzzles are one of the easiest games for older adults. This type of game gives you a list of words and a big box of random letters that hide the words inside. All you have to do is to find the words and circle them.
There are usually three levels of word search puzzles available in activity books: easy, medium, and difficult. Additionally, some activity books with word search games may offer larger-than-normal text for easier reading.

Dots and Boxes

A dot-to-dot game, also known as dots and squares, requires you to arrange several equally spaced dots in a row; how many rows you have depends on how big you want the game to be. Every player connects a dot with another using either a vertical or horizontal line. By completing a square or box, a player gets to place his initials there. The player whose initials are in the most boxes wins when all dots are connected, and all boxes have an initial.


Divide an abstract shape into 30-50 sections. The goal is to connect sections with lines that symbolize bridges. Players start the line in one section, cross a second, and finish in the third by taking turns and using different colours. A player may not start, cross, or end in a section that has previously been used. Bridges are built alternately until all bridges have been built. Whoever builds the last bridge wins.

Word Stories

Playing fill-in-the-blank story games with two or more people is story fun. These are basically stories with blanks in them. Fill in each blank with an adjective, adverb, noun, or verb based on the label it shows. Usually, someone holds the book and writes down the specific word mentioned by other players. Then, someone reads the whole story so that everyone can have a good laugh.

An open notebook showing a game of hangman


Surely, you have heard about this famous game. Player A thinks of a word or phrase to play hangman on a whiteboard or a piece of paper. On the paper, player A draws a dash instead of each letter that player B has to guess.
It is now player B’s turn to guess a letter. If they guess the right letters, player A enters them at the appropriate dashes. Player A may draw a part of the hanged man (e.g., the noose, one leg, one arm, and so on) if the letter is not in the word or phrase.
If player B guesses the secret word before the hangman drawing is complete, player B wins; otherwise, the winner would be player A. Before starting the game, players should agree on the complete hangman drawing and how they want to complete it. For example, some people draw the face separate from the head, and some draw it as a part of the head.


Played with stones or tokens, Nim is a very old game. Nevertheless, this is a game that you can also play with a pen and paper. You can draw 1, 3, 5, and 7 marks in the shape of a pyramid. The object is to make your opponent cross out the final mark. On each turn, the players cross out as many tick marks as they like. However, they may only cross out tick marks on one line at a time.


You can make the grid as small or as large as you like. Trying out different numbers of dots will help you figure out what works best for you. Each player starts at one dot, draws a line to any other dot and circles it. Lines must stay within the boundaries of the grid. Circling a dot that has not yet been used and bisecting another line are forbidden. However, it is possible to start from a dot that someone else has already chosen. The person who draws the last lasso wins when no more moves are left.


You begin a game of Tic-Tac-Toe by drawing two vertical lines and crossing them with two horizontal lines to make the board. The result will be a chart with nine small squares. One player uses X, and the other uses O. It takes each player a turn to enter their symbol (X or O) into a square until all squares are filled or until one player manages to put three of their symbols in a row (vertically, horizontally or diagonally). It is also possible to play using the players’ first initials.


Playing Backgammon with dice on a whiteboard or paper is also possible. You will need a large rectangular board with ten pips (triangles) at the top, then at the bottom, and the “bar” in the middle. There are easy-to-find online backgammon rules. Simply erase the pieces and redraw them in the new position to move them.

Win, Lose or Draw

When you have a larger group, Win, Lose, or Draw can be a lot of fun. One player starts drawing, and other participants try to guess what image the drawing will be. The person who guesses correctly receives one point and starts to draw the next image. Decide at the beginning whether you will play for a specific period of time or until someone reaches a certain number of points.


The Bottom Line 

The benefits of Games are countless, and most of these pen and paper games are both beneficial and enjoyable! Playing these games with others helps you socialize with family and friends, and even children can collaborate on the activity with you. You won’t regret trying pen and paper games; since they help improve memory and brain function.

Source Our Pastimes Icebreaker Ideas
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1 year ago

I really enjoyed this article on the best pen and paper games for seniors. As someone who has spent many afternoons playing games like Scrabble and Sudoku with my grandparents, I can attest to the benefits of these games for promoting mental agility and social connection.

1 year ago

Great! Thanks.