For aging seniors, staying active is key to physical, mental and social-emotional wellbeing. And, exercising the mind is just as important as maintaining physical fitness and strength. Luckily, there is no shortage of affordable, easy-to-find games and puzzles that provide a little challenge and a lot of fun!
Here are 10 ideas for simple activities that can bring endless hours of enjoyment:
1. Put the pieces together
Solving jigsaw and other types of puzzles is a fun, low-stress activity for seniors, plus it can boost visual acuity and manual dexterity. Puzzles have the advantage of being inexpensive and you can find them for every skill level—from 5 to 5,000 pieces. Also, many libraries have puzzles available to loan.
2. Hang in there
Word games like Hangman are a great way to keep the mind busy. You can easily create personalized Hangman puzzles using words or phrases that are familiar to your loved one. Crossword and word search puzzles are available for every level and can be found online, in newspapers, or in inexpensive books.
3. What’s in a word?
Another way to play with words is to play games like Scrabble, Upwords, or Apples to Apples. If they’re too challenging, many games offer simpler junior editions. You can also “break the rules” to make the games more appropriate for your loved one. For example, you could play Scrabble with the tiles showing so that all the players can help each other create words. Upwords is like 3D Scrabble, although with shorter words so it’s simpler, especially if you don’t keep score.
Next time you have the family or group of friends together, bring out the Bingo! It’s fun and stimulating for every age group and an easy way to promote social interactions and a sense of wellbeing. Make it extra fun by providing small prizes for the winners.
5. Senior hide & seek
You can create a simple game to enhance short-term memory that can be played sitting down. With the “tray game,” the idea is to place a handful of random items from around the house on a tray. Have your loved one take a look at the items before covering them with a cloth, then challenge them to recall as many items as possible. A variation on this is to have your loved one close their eyes while you remove something from the room and see if they can figure out what’s missing.
6. Jog your memory
Memory, the classic card matching game, is a fun way to increase memory skills for all ages. Get creative and make your own set with family photos or pictures of objects that are meaningful to your loved one, like favorite animals or vacation spots. Or, simply purchase one of the many options available.
7. Name that tune
Sing a familiar melody or play an old tune on your phone. Challenge your loved one to name the tune and, better yet, try to remember the lyrics. This can lead to a sing along and time for your loved one to reminisce about the past and recall happy memories.
8. Don’t be bored
Play board games! Of course there are many possibilities and which ones you choose depends on your loved one’s interests and abilities. Look for games that are uncomplicated or open-ended like Connect 4, Taboo or In a Pickle. Or, play games that have a simple action like Trouble or Kerplunk.
9. Roll the dice
Dice games can be a great source of enjoyment and satisfying way to participate in the action. You can try Yahtzee and other purchased games, look for game ideas online or just invent your own! All you need are a pencil, paper and a few dice.
10. It’s in the cards
With 52 cards in a deck, playing cards offer endless options for fun games. Try War, Solitaire, Go Fish, Rummy or any other favorite family game. You might even play poker games like 5-Card Stud, Texas Hold ’em or 21—and “bet” with chips, snacks or pennies.
Home Care Angels provides assistance with daily activities, such as dressing, eating and personal care, from home service aides. Please call 847.824.5221 to speak with one of our Client Care Coordinators if you would like more information on in-home care.