For many people, adults especially, games are reserved for “free time”. We must intentionally set aside time to engage in a game of any kind. They’re often reserved for family game nights, vacations, inclement weather, or another special time. We can usually come up with a long list of chores that must get done before we can sit back and get lost in a game.
During our working years, leisurely time is when we usually look for ways to relax and unwind. However, as we enter retirement, this newfound “free time” is the perfect opportunity to engage in new hobbies or activities that previously did not fit into our schedule. Games are a fun way to fill the time, while also socializing with others and forming new relationships.
Games can be broken down into a variety of categories including board games, lawn games, card games, and puzzles. Each group is unique, offering a variety of choices to fit most any interest. Here are a few of our favorites from each category that you’re guaranteed to enjoy!
- Scrabble- This is unarguably a timeless classic that should be found in every game closet! Using individual letter squares, players try to rack up points by creating words with their chosen letters. Combining both luck and skill, players compete for the highest score, while building a real-life crossword puzzle. Points accumulate throughout the game until the last tile is played, ending the game. The player with the highest score is the winner.
Scrabble is a great way to practice fine motor skills while increasing brain power and building vocabulary, making it a great activity for cognitive function. Look for the senior-friendly version that’s available in large print format!
- Monopoly– This best-selling board game is fun for the whole family. The goal of the real-estate themed game is to buy and develop as many properties as possible. Players collect rent from their opponents for the houses and hotels, in hopes of driving them into bankruptcy, thus dominating the market by creating a monopoly.
Sharpen your mind with a friendly game of monopoly! You’ll have to put your math skills and calculations to work throughout the course of the game.
- Trivial Pursuit– Players compete to collect wedges by correctly answering trivia questions across six categories, including geography, entertainment, history, sports and leisure, arts and literature, and science and nature. The first individual, or team, to collect all the wedges wins!
- Bocce Ball– Bocce is one of the oldest-known yard games in the world. The game includes eight bocce balls and a smaller ball, known as the pallino. A team member will toss the pallino, which serves as the target, to initiate play. Each team will then take turns throwing their bocce balls towards the pallino, competing for a spot closest to the target. Players earn points for the ball(s) closest to the pallino until they reach the designated winning score.
This game helps seniors develop their tone, grip, balance, and eye-hand coordination, all while having a ball doing so! Bocce is a mindless game, making it a great activity for socializing with others over a little friendly competition.
- Old Maid– Cards are evenly distributed among all players. With cards in hand, each player sorts through their own cards to discard any pairs. Players then take turns picking from their opponents’ hand, making pairs to discard, while trying to avoid picking the old maid. At the end of the game, whoever is stuck with the old maid loses.
Matching games are especially beneficial for seniors with dementia. It helps individuals improve cognitive function; the added element of the old maid requires extra focus and concentration.
- Solitaire– This is a great option for someone who prefers to play cards alone! Using a full deck of 52 cards, players must build upon the aces, in ascending value, until they reach the kings. There are many variations to this game, including online options that set the game up for you.
Though this particular game doesn’t allow for socialization like many other card games, it is a great opportunity to exercise your brain and build confidence.
- Jigsaw Puzzles- This is likely what comes to mind when someone mentions puzzles. The goal is to fit all the jigsaw pieces together to create a completed image. Puzzles come in a variety of sizes and difficulty levels.
For individuals with arthritis, large puzzle pieces are recommended to help with fine motor skills and placement. Focus, concentration, and recall are needed in order to complete a puzzle; this challenges our cognitive abilities, helping with both short- and long-term memory. Furthermore, puzzles are therapeutic and allow individuals to relax and reduce stress.
- Brain Puzzles– There are a variety of puzzles that would fall into this category, but Sudoku and crossword puzzles are 2 of the better-known brain teasers. Both puzzles can be found in most newspapers, giving you a new challenge to solve each day.
Whether you choose to work with numbers (Sudoku) or letters (crossword), either option can boost your cognitive function and improve your memory. Completing puzzles can even boost your mood, giving you a feeling of accomplishment and a better sense of self.
Board games, and games of all sorts, are more than just boredom-busters! Of course, they provide a great deal of entertainment, but they also offer a plethora of other benefits as well. Grab some friends, pick a game, and let the good times roll!