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9 Simple Memory Games for Seniors

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An older woman with glasses sitting at a table and doing a jigsaw puzzle with a cup of tea

As we age, maintaining cognitive health becomes increasingly important. Memory games are a delightful way to keep your mind sharp, engaged, and having fun. But memory games aren’t just for residents in senior living communities—they’re a valuable tool for seniors everywhere.

At Barton House Nashville, we understand the significance of memory games. Here are 9 simple memory games for seniors:

  1. Story hour
  2. Jigsaw puzzles
  3. Crosswords & word games
  4. Sudoku
  5. Memory Bowl
  6. Trivial Pursuit
  7. Card-matching games
  8. Playing an instrument
  9. Switch-It

How Seniors Can Benefit from Memory Games

Memory games aren’t just fun, they’re also fantastic for keeping our brains healthy and active. These include games, puzzles, activities, and more, all designed to help improve a person’s memory and cognitive abilities. Memory games offer plenty of benefits, and can:

  • Improve cognitive function
  • Increase memory recall
  • Reduce the risk of cognitive decline
  • Improve quality of life

And the best part? There are plenty of entirely free options that still offer these benefits. 

1. Story Hour

There’s something magical about storytelling. It’s a chance to engage with others, reminisce, and keep the cognitive muscles strong. Reminiscence therapy is often used in senior living communities because of the benefits it offers!

Hosting a story hour can help older adults bond with the people around them, which is incredible for people of any age. A strong social network is closely linked with an improved quality of life. So, if you’re stuck on what stories to tell, try to think about:

  • Your favorite childhood memory
  • The best vacation you ever had
  • A memorable family tradition

You’ll get to reminisce with the people you care about, and share some fun facts about yourself along the way.

2. Jigsaw Puzzles

Who doesn’t love a good jigsaw puzzle? It’s a simple and excellent option for seniors looking to try boosting their memory.

Jigsaw puzzles challenge your short-term memory. After all, there’s always going to be that one piece you can’t seem to find! And puzzles help stimulate several parts of the brain as well. You need to:

  • Concentrate on the task at hand
  • Recognize different shapes, colors, and patterns
  • Remember what pieces go where

Try to choose a simple puzzle with a theme you enjoy and gradually work your way up.

3. Crosswords & Word Games

Crosswords are a classic brain exercise. They challenge language and memory skills and can be as easy or as tricky as you want them to be. They also require you to use different words and vocabulary, keeping the mind active.

You can play on your own, or work with your family and friends for some added enjoyment. And along the way, you may learn a new word or fact that you’d never have been exposed to otherwise.

4. Sudoku

For older adults who prefer numbers to words, Sudoku can be an excellent option. It requires you to concentrate and think strategically while you work through the different parts of the puzzle. 

Try to start small with the simpler levels, then gradually work your way up. There are few feelings as rewarding as finishing a complex number challenge! And the whole time, it’s a brilliant workout for the brain.

5. Memory Bowl

Sometimes, it’s better to keep things simple. Try a round of Memory Bowl! Grab a large bowl and go throughout your loved one’s home, grabbing random objects and putting them in.

Then, ask your loved one:

  • What it is
  • Where they got it
  • What it means to them
  • Anything significant about it

It’s a lovely way to reminisce and exercise memory recall. And who knows—maybe you’ll learn where your loved one got a curious item!

6. Trivial Pursuit

Trivia is an excellent way to boost cognitive function. It lets you test and expand your general knowledge—which is never a bad thing—while exercising your memory muscles.

Try to choose categories your loved one is familiar with at first. This lets them warm up a bit and stretch their memory legs, so to speak. Then, bring in some other folks, and learn some fun facts as a group! You never know who may have the answer to a particularly challenging card.

7. Card-Matching Games

Card-matching games are excellent for improving memory and concentration. They’re simple to set up, and you can play them anywhere you have a flat surface. Any card game that requires you to match colors, sets, or patterns together is great!

Whether it’s Go Fish, a game of Mahjong, or a more colorful option like Sushi Go!, these games can do wonders for boosting cognitive function and memory.

8. Playing an Instrument

Music therapy has been shown to have numerous benefits for seniors. Playing an instrument can create new neural pathways, improve cognitive health, and even build new muscle memory. 

Don’t worry—you don’t need to start learning Beethoven or Mozart. Instead, try to pick up something easy and have some fun making noise. Piano, guitar, ukulele, harmonica, the banjo—they’re all excellent options. 

9. Switch-It

Try switching things up with your routine and habits. It’s going to be challenging at first, but it can be beneficial to break from the norm for a while.

When you change a pattern or a routine, it engages different parts of the brain. You almost have to re-learn how to do some tasks. While it can be challenging at first, it can be excellent for stimulating the mind and keeping your memory strong.

Try to:

  • Change your usual route
  • Use your non-dominant hand for some tasks
  • Do your routine in a different order

It can push your brain to adapt and grow, so go ahead and switch it up!

An older adult man wearing yellow polo shirt and playing a piano at home

Supporting Seniors in Nashville

Here at Barton House Nashville, we believe in nurturing both the body and mind. These memory games are just one aspect of our commitment to promoting cognitive health and overall well-being. Remember: keeping the mind active is key to living a fulfilling life at any age! 

If you’re looking for a community that believes in supporting seniors however we can, book a tour to explore our community today.

Written by Melanie Wallace

More Articles By Melanie Wallace
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