What Games Can I Play with a Loved One with Alzheimer’s?

Spending time and connecting with a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be confusing or intimidating. It is true that as the disease progresses, your loved one may not be able to do everything they used to love, but there are still plenty of activities that you can share together. One great way to spend time with your loved one is to play games. In this article, we’ll look at a couple of tips to keep in mind before choosing a game activity for your loved one, and then we’ll suggest some popular and appropriate games to try.

Why Play Games

The right game can let you and your loved one share hours of fun together. While your loved one may not be as mobile as before or be able to participate in old hobbies, games offer an alternative activity that can fight boredom.

Additionally, games can provide mental stimulation as well as encourage communication and even help your loved one maintain hand-eye coordination and dexterity.

Our Top Gaming Tips

Not every game is right for a person with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and not every game is right for a specific day and time. As always, you’ll need to show patience and understanding toward your loved one and let them guide you on whether a certain game is the right activity for the moment.

  • Choose the Right Game – Complex strategy games, games with time pressure, games that encourage aggressive competition, or games that require too much physicality are probably not good options for your loved one. (Save Twister for the grandkids.)
  • Avoid Small Pieces – Your loved one may have difficulty seeing or moving small game pieces around, so consider switching them out for larger pieces.
  • Large Print Games – If you can, purchase larger card decks so your loved one doesn’t struggle to see the cards.
  • Observe Your Loved One – Do they understand the rules, or are they getting confused? Are they interested and participating actively in the game, or do they seem bored? It’s never a good idea to force your loved one to play a game, especially if they aren’t enjoying themselves.
  • Recognize That Your Loved One’s Ability Will Change Over Time – As your loved one’s dementia or Alzheimer’s progresses, they may not be able to enjoy the same games as before. Maybe checkers was a favorite last year, but now your loved one keeps getting confused by the rules. As your loved one’s capabilities change, be open to suggesting less complex games.
  • Have Fun – Game night among your friends may be all about crushing the competition and taking no prisoners, but that same mentality won’t work when you play with someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Having fun, not winning, is the goal. Take it easy, enjoy your time together, and let the chips fall where they may!
  • Know When to Stop – Alzheimer’s or dementia can affect your loved one’s attention span, making it more difficult for them to stay focused for a long period of time. Often a half hour or an hour of game play is more than enough for your loved one. It’s better to wrap up if your loved one starts getting distracted or cranky.

Game Suggestions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

There are thousands upon thousands of games in the world, and we can’t possibly list them all. Additionally, most of us have clear preferences when it comes to games. This is just a simple, short list of the games we suggest based on our experience with our own residents.

Card Games

  • Uno
  • Go Fish
  • Old Maid

Board Games

  • Clue
  • Sorry!
  • Checkers
  • Snakes and Ladders
  • Candyland

Games Designed for People with Cognitive Decline

  • PicLink
  • Shake Loose
  • Call to Mind

Other Games

  • Bingo
  • 20 Questions
  • Pictionary
  • Jenga
  • Dominoes

Here at Sunshine Care, we provide our residents with a wide range of activities, including many fun games they can play. One of our most popular activities is Bingo, which we host several times a week.

If you would like more great game ideas for your loved one, consider joining our next monthly caregiver support group, where you can receive game and activity recommendations from other caregivers.


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