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Engaging Games for Seniors with Dementia

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

When an older adult is living with dementia, it’s essential to encourage them to participate in engaging activities that bring them joy. Dementia can be complicated, so it’s essential to support our loved ones however we can. And sometimes, a fun game can make all the difference in the world! So, what are some ideal games?

Engaging games for seniors with dementia include:

  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • The Memory Tray
  • Bingo
  • Storytelling hour
  • Tactile match
  • Jenga
  • Trivia
  • Odd One Out

Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a classic, and over the years, they’ve proven to be an excellent tool for stimulating the brain. These puzzles are incredible for promoting:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Concentration
  • A sense of accomplishment

For older adults with dementia, puzzles with large, colorful pieces can provide a calming and satisfying experience. Meanwhile, something as simple as a puzzle can also encourage social interaction—they’re a fun activity to do while spending time with others.

Whether you complete a small 50-piece or several-hundred-piece complex puzzle, you can’t go wrong with this choice.

The Memory Tray

The Memory Tray game perfectly blends reminiscence therapy and memory stimulation. There are a few steps involved:

  • Grab a tray, and go around your loved one’s home
  • Begin grabbing various items, like a watch, a toy, a fun collectible item, or a well-loved knick-knack
  • Bring the tray of items back to your loved one
  • Have them examine each item and tell you a relevant story, like how they got it or where

It can also help to cover the tray once they’ve finished looking through the items and have them try to recall as many of them as they can. This can help strengthen both short and long-term memory, and you may even learn something new about your loved one’s cherished belongings!


Bingo is a beloved game for many, and for good reason—it’s highly social and easily accessible. Older adults can spend time with one another while enjoying an activity that requires them to pay attention, recognize and match numbers, and more.

Using large-print boards or simple pictures instead of numbers can make the game a little easier. For older adults with dementia, bingo can be a wonderful pastime—the nature of the game helps with routine formation and structure, which can provide a familiar, comforting experience.

Storytelling Hour

Sometimes, the simplest activity is the best. Try encouraging your loved one to share a story they love. Whether it’s about their first date, their wedding, a vacation they once took, or even a funny anecdote from when they were younger, a story can be rewarding for both you and your loved one.

This can help to enhance:

  • Communication skills
  • Mental stimulation
  • Your connection to your loved one

Try creating a comfortable space and ask open-ended questions. You never know when you might be surprised by a wild story from your loved one’s past.

Tactile Matching

Human senses are powerful triggers for memories and emotions. So, if you can’t think of a game to play with your loved one, try “tactile matching.”

You’ll need to do a little preparation for this game. Create sets of items with various textures, like:

  • Smooth stones
  • Pieces of wood
  • Soft pieces of fabric
  • Sandpaper
  • Cardboard

Then, have your loved one use their sense of touch to try and match the items to a set without looking. For example, have them separate the fabric and the stones into separate piles. This helps both stimulate the mind and the sense of touch.


Jenga, though simple, is a game that requires some strategy and intense focus. Because the game requires precision, it can be excellent for building:

  • Decision-making skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Hand-eye coordination

It also offers the chance to practice patience, making it an excellent source of mental exercise. For older adults with dementia, it can help to use a simplified version of the game with larger blocks to help reduce potential feelings of frustration. Plus, Jenga can be played with others, allowing older adults to reap the benefits of socialization while enjoying a simpler game.


Playing trivia can be an engaging way to tap into long-term memory and encourage recollection of facts and events. Choose categories likely to be familiar and enjoyable for the participants, such as movies or music from their youth.

This game is easily adaptable, incorporating multi-sensory elements through visual and verbal cues. Trivia can act as a tool for mental stimulation, social interaction, and fostering a sense of accomplishment.

Odd One Out

Odd One Out is a simple game that encourages observation and critical thinking. Present a collection of related items through pictures, objects, or words, and ask your loved one to identify which ones don’t belong.

For example, you can take a series of cards with pictures of animals and spread them out on a table. Then, include an image of something that doesn’t belong, like an airplane or a picture of food.

This playful exercise stimulates reasoning and classification skills, often leading to humorous and enjoyable interactions. Remember, the primary goal isn’t mastery or winning but the joy and stimulation from participating in a shared activity.

An older adult man and woman smiling while playing Jenga on a table

Memory Care in Murfreesboro

If you have a loved one living with dementia, you aren’t alone. Our team at The Villages of Murfreesboro offers personalized care in an environment designed to stimulate, engage, and support your loved one. Book a tour with us today to learn how we can help provide your loved one with a fulfilling life.

Sue Hall

Written by Sue Hall

Sue has been in healthcare for over 30 years as a nurse, consultant, and administrator. Through the years, she has always felt her calling was with seniors, and she feels at home at The Villages of Murfreesboro. Sue serves on the board of the Tennessee State Veterans’ Homes.

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