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Are you looking for the best board games to give as gifts to your parents or grandparents?
If so, then you’ve landed on the right page! In this post, we share with you the 15 best board games for seniors and the elderly. We have reviewed these games thoroughly and found that they provide the best experience when it comes to fun and entertainment.
But before we get to our list, let us first discuss the benefits of playing board games for those who are more advanced in years.
Benefits of Board Games for Seniors and the Elderly
Numerous studies have proven that playing games—particularly card and board games—is hugely beneficial for older people. Research shows that these recreational activities help in maintaining cognitive function, mental clarity, and memory retention.
You have probably heard that playing board games can also help prevent the early onset of age-related ailments like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Board games help prevent these diseases by keeping their brains active and functioning.
In addition to cognitive benefits, did you know that board games have social benefits, too? Indeed, these games improve social skills and interpersonal relationships. They create a space where people can communicate and strengthen their bonds with each other. They also prevent older people from feeling lonely and isolated.
Playing games has many other benefits as well. If you want to read a comprehensive article about the advantages of playing board games, check out this post.
Now let’s check out our list of the best board games for the elderly!
Scrabble has long been a classic, favorite word board game. The game was created in 1938 when renowned architect Alfred Mosher Butts was looking for a way to make ends meet. He designed Scrabble to utilize both chance and skill in a single game.
Currently, Scrabble game is manufactured by Hasbro Gaming, one of the giants in the game manufacturing industry. The board comes with 100 wooden letters, four tile racks, and one drawstring letter bag where you draw your letters.
The goal is to score the highest number of points when all the letters from the bag have been drawn and played. There are bonus points for utilizing scoring hotspots and using all your tiles in one single turn.
We recommend Scrabble for older people because research shows that it significantly reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s never too late to battle the onset of these mental illnesses. Besides, it sure is a lot of fun to play board games with your grandparents!
If there is a game that’s more “classic” than Scrabble, then it is surely chess. This game has its roots in the Indian strategy game called “Chaturanga,” which originated before the 7th century! Chess is a two-player game that uses a checkered board with 64 squares in an 8×8 grid.
This Chess Family Classics Edition from Pressman is one of the bestselling versions of the game. It features a heavy-duty, folding chess board for easy storage and preservation, and comes with a set of beautiful black and ivory Staunton chess pieces (two kings, two queens, four rooks, four knights, four bishops, and 16 pawns).
For those who are not aware of the game’s rules, the goal is to checkmate your opponent’s king by cornering it in an inescapable position. Checkmate is a game position in chess where the king is “in check” (in danger of being taken) and there is way to prevent the attack.
We recommend Chess for elders because it is a board game that stimulates and engages the brain. It also improves logical reasoning and problem-solving skills. Most importantly, this classic board game has been proven to lower the risk of age-related cognitive illnesses like dementia.
Yahtzee is great entertainment for those who love playing dice games. It was designed and created by Milton Bradley, and first marketed by the National Association Service of Toledo (Ohio) as Yatzie. It is currently owned by Hasbro, the same manufacturing company that produces Scrabble and Monopoly.
The game has one simple objective, and that is to score points by making specific combinations. You have to roll the dice to create the combos, and you need to be careful for the dice to stay in the box. There are 13 rounds per game, and after each round the players have to choose which scoring categories they should use.
Note, however, that once a scoring category has been used, it cannot be used again for the rest of the game. The winner is the player with the most number of points at the end.
Yahtzee is often recommended for older people because it keeps the brain sharp and prevents age-related cognitive decline.
Boggle is another product of Hasbro Gaming, although it was originally distributed by Parker Brothers. It is a word game invented by Allan Turoff, and the goal is to create as many words as you can within a given set of rules and a given timeframe.
To start the game, players need to shake the covered dice and then settle them into a 4×4 tray. The top letter of each cube should be visible because this is where the words will come from. After that, the timer is started and each player lists down all the words they can find from the letters on the dice (horizontally, vertically, and diagonally).
Note that the words should at least be three letters long, and that players may not use the same letter cube more than once per word. When the timer stops, everyone should stop writing and then words are scored based on their length. Remember, however, that any duplicate words (when two or more players have written the same words) are eliminated before the scoring begins.
Boggle is said to be a great game for the elderly because it promotes creative and critical thinking. It stimulates the brain and slows down the process of mental aging. It also improves concentration and encourages socialization among players.
5. Big Letter Bananagrams
If you are familiar with the simple version of Bananagrams, then this Big Letter version will feel quite familiar. The only difference between this one and the original version is the size of the letters—they are larger and the tiles use more contrast to make it easier for elders and low-vision players to see.
The goal and rules of the game are simple—you just need to create words horizontally or vertically on the board until there are no more letter tiles left. Whoever is the first person to have used all his or her letters once there are no more to draw is the winner. Note, however, that you have to shout “Bananas!” to be considered victorious.
The big letter version was inspired by an 85-year-old man from Chicago suffering from macular degeneration. He loved playing Bananagrams, but always had a hard time playing comfortably because of vision problems. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among elderly people, so the company behind the word game created the big letter version.
The sales proceeds of this particular version of the game are donated to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. The manufacturer aims to support the organization in its mission to help people have better vision.
6. Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is for seniors who love travel and adventure. It is a game that will help them reminisce about their vacation moments when they were still young, particularly to cities and sites in North America. If you are looking for the perfect travel-themed board game for them, then this one is a good option.
In this game, the goal of each player is to connect the railway routes uniting the cities of North America by matching train cards, as well as finishing objectives and accomplishing missions. Designed for two to five players, this board game has around 30 to 60 minutes of playtime.
We recommend this game for the elderly because it helps keep their brains active and clear. Moreover, it is a game they can play with their grandkids whilst educating them about the cities and places in North America.
Hive is an addictive, award-winning board game that can keep anyone busy and focused. Although it may seem difficult to handle, it is actually recommended for players of all ages, even the elderly. The goal is to keep an eye on your hive and try to defeat the opponent’s queen bee.
What makes this game interesting is that there is no board to start with. You have to plan and play the pieces strategically so that they can create the board. As you add your pieces, you aim to surround the other side’s queen bee. At the same time, you also need to make sure that you protect yours.
According to the manufacturer, this game is designed for players who are ages eight and above. Most customers agree that it is very suitable for seniors because it keeps the brain sharp. Your grandparents will surely enjoy this unique game.
Monopoly is a classic board game suitable for adults and even the elderly. This is because it is not just a game not of chance, but also strategy.
You start the game with a few dollars, and then each player attempts to buy, sell, and trade properties and eventually own everything. At the same time, players must look for ways to ruin their opponents.
Monopoly is a strategy game, meaning it is good for practicing problem-solving and decision-making skills. Likewise, it is a game that elders will surely love because they have the experience and wisdom necessary to win.
9. Trivial Pursuit
Last on our list is a game that will test your grandparents’ general knowledge—Trivial Pursuit Classic Edition. This retro version of the board game consists of 400 cards, one die, six wedge holders, and 36 wedges. There are 2,400 trivia questions in total.
What we love about this board game is that it has questions from the traditional version. It also has the classic gameplay that everybody knows and loves. This means that seniors won’t have a hard time understanding the mechanics of the game. Similarly, they’ll enjoy the questions because many of them are from their era.
We also love the fact that this board game allows the elderly to have a fun game night with the whole family, since the game is good for both adults and children.
Cranium is the “Game for Your Whole Brain.” It was first designed and created by Whit Alexander and Richard Talt in 1998, but it was later developed and produced by game-manufacturing giant Hasbro. This board game includes a lot of physical and mental activities.
The game gives all the players a chance to show off their talents. There are four color-coded categories: Creative Cat, Star Performer, Data Head, and Word Worm. Each team picks a card from the categories on the board and the goal is to finish all the activities on their chosen category. Whoever reaches the “central” space and completes the last goal is the winner.
The board game comes with 600 cards, four movers, the Cranium Clay, a timer, a die, and a notepad. It also includes an instruction guide for beginners. It is recommended for players 16 years old and above, but it may also be played with children as long as there is supervision.
Cranium is also a good fit for the elderly since it requires physical and mental actions. It can help seniors exercise both their bodies and brains.
If you have ever played Dominoes and Scrabble, then Qwirkle should be pretty easy. It basically has the same goal as these other two games, except that it is not a word game or a number game. What you are trying to build here is a complex combination and design of blocks and figures.
The game consists of 108 wooden blocks that are all in different colors and shapes. Each player uses their blocks to come up with combinations and designs. The more a tile touches other pieces that have the same attributes, the higher the score.
If you end up with a line that has all the colors and shapes, that is called a “Qwirkle.” You get a really high score and increase your chances of winning.
We recommend Qwirkle for elderly people who like games that are simple and easy to follow and play. There are no complicated instructions and the rules are quite easy to understand. It can accommodate up to four players, making it perfect for a mini get-together with your best of friends.
Chronology is a combination of a guessing game and a memory game. As its name suggests, it tests your awareness of timelines and significant events. If you know your history or if you are exceptionally good at dates and general knowledge, you shouldn’t have too hard a time with it.
The game is rather easy to play, as it does not have complicated rules. You must only “guess” or “know” where or when in your timeline a historical event belongs. If your guess is right, then you can keep the card. If you are wrong, then the next person after your turn gets a chance to win the card.
There are 429 double-sided cards included in the game, which means there are 858 total events. Whoever builds a timeline of 10 cards wins. If the rest of the players would still like to proceed, they can do so to determine who gets second place, third place, etc.
Chronology is actually a card game, but we have included it on this list since we find it very beneficial for seniors. As individuals who have spent a lot of time in this world, this game can help them enjoy reminiscing about the good old days. It can also stimulate their brains and improve their memory.
Backgammon is believed to have its roots in Jiroft, which is more commonly known as modern-day Iran. It involves two players and the goal is to be the first one to “bear off” or move all of their checkers from the board. Although the game is somewhat based on luck, an effective strategy is still needed to beat your opponent.
This game has been around for centuries and has a number of different variations, including mobile adaptations, card adaptations, and a lot more. Regardless of the version, the goal remains the same, and that is to be the first player to “bear off.”
This classic game is perfect for elderly people, as it helps develop analytical skills. Plus, the game has been popular for a long time, so it is likely that they have played it at some point during their lives!
Dominoes is a tile-based game that can be played in a number of different ways, each with its own rules and mechanics. The game is even played at a professional level. Believe it or not, a number of associations, organizations, and clubs exist around the world solely for the purpose of competing in international domino competitions.
Dominoes is a great game for seniors. Whether they decide to play the original version or simply use the tiles to create a pattern and then watch it fall down, Dominoes has entertained people for generations and will continue to do so in the future.
Mahjong is another classic tile-based game that originated in China during the 19th century. It requires three to four players, depending on the game variation you choose to play. Expert gamers claim that this is a game of luck, skill, and strategy.
If you are purchasing a Mahjong set for your seniors at home, we recommend selecting the one from Yellow Mountain Imports (link above). The same manufacturer also produces an American or Japanese set, so you have options. Whichever you prefer, the game helps to improve a person’s cognitive and social interaction skills.
Final Thoughts on Board Games for Seniors
Playing board games can provide plenty of benefits to seniors and older family members. We hope that the list we shared above can help you find the best ones for them.
If you are looking for other types of board games that might possibly suit your needs, check out our other articles on board games. Here are a few of them:
Finally, if you want to increase your happiness and life satisfaction, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's important.