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Memory Games and Activities for

Keeping the
aging mind sharp

Its important that as people age they find ways to keep

both their body and mind sharp.
Sandy Gibson, the Director of Nursing with BrightStar of

Chicago, put
together a great list of games and activities to do with
These to
great exercises for those suffering from
with memory.

Memory Card Game

This classic cardgameis a great way to exercise

Lay all the cards from a deck face down in a 13 x 4
The first player turns two cards over at random.
If they are a match, he gets to keep them and go again.
If they are different numbers, he must turn them back
over and it is
the next players turn.
As more and more cards are revealed, players are forced
remember where certain cards are in the grid.
The player with the most pairs at the end of the game

Simon Says
Simon Says exercises reflex skills andmemory.
It is appropriate for seniors already experiencing

memory loss.
Stand at the front of the room.
Do an action, such as putting your hands on your head.
Describe the action, introducing it with Simon says.
For example,
Simon says put your hands on your head.
The participants must imitate your actions until you
describe a
gesture you are doing without saying Simon says.
Anyone who does the gesture is out. The game requires
that seniors
quickly recall the names of body parts.

Name That Tune

This game is great for exercising and testing long-term

Assemble various recordings of songs that were popular
when todays
seniors were young.
Play a short clip from a song. Participants must write
down the name
of the song and the artist.
Play 10-15 different songs.
Announce the answers one by one. The participant with
the highest
number of correct responses wins.

Memory Circle
This game strengthens both long- and short-term

Assemble a group of senior citizens in a circle.
Go around the circle and have participants share
memories of a
favorite hobby or activity from their childhood.
Once each person has had a chance to share, go around
the circle
This time, have each person recount the same memory
of another
Continue until everyone has had a chance to recount
someone elses

Tech Games
In the age of technology and gadgets, seniors can

benefit from a host

of games.
The Nintendo DS is a hand-held game console.
Among the games available for it is Brain Age/Brain
Age 2, a game
with nine puzzles, multi-level Sudoku rounds and speed
memory tests.
Another, Clubhouse Games, offers 40 classic seniorfriendly games
like Texas Hold Em, backgammon, checkers, bowling,
billiards and
These particular activities will challenge a seniors
speed, dexterity,
memory and mental focus.

Traditional Games
You can never go wrong with traditional games that

exercise mental
focus and memory.
Brain teasers, crossword puzzles, bingo boards and
puzzles are
available in large print and large sizes to make it easier
for seniors to
handle, see and play.

Group Fun
Trivia games for seniors can be a group activity that

allows them to
develop a sense of teamwork while bonding with their
Such games alleviate loneliness, a state of being that
depression, anxiety and dementia in seniors, according
to The Senior
Review. Trivia games can be especially enjoyable for
knowledgeable on subjects such as music, movies,
history, art

Board Games
Board gamessuch as chess, Monopoly, and even

childrens games like

Candyland and Chutes and Ladders help improve the
memory of seniors.
Board games provide seniors a way to assist their peers,
giving them a
sense of helpfulness.
Board games with basic play rules are less about
competitiveness and
more about having fun and encouraging each player to
do his best.

Outdoor Games
Other than getting fresh air and exercise, there are

plenty of games to
play with seniors outside.
Depending on the physical fitness level of the senior,
games such as
Red Light Green Light, Simon Says, Freeze Tag, sports
games or a
scavenger hunt are examples of games to get senior
citizens outdoors
and are free to play.

Arts and Crafts

With items that you already have, you can do arts and

crafts with your

According to the Seniors Love to Know website, scrap
booking is a fun
way to gather your photos and mementos together and
is a great way
to organize your treasures.
Drawing and sketching can also be enjoyable and to
make it a game,
you can play Pictionary or have contests based on what
picture looks
the most realistic, the most bizarre, the most creative,

Card Games
Card games are free and can be fun for people of all

There are a variety of different card games to choose
from and the
flexibility of cards means that you can make up your
own games if you
Find a game your senior wants to play or you can get
ideas from the
Games Info Depot website and play popular games such
as Old Maid,
Bridge, Poker, BlackJack and Cribbage.

Get out the bingo cards, bingo balls and bingo markers,

and let the

seniors enjoy a couple ofgamesof bingo.
For added fun, create the bingo cards and markers to
match the
nearest holiday.
If Halloween is coming up, use bingo cards with pictures
of bats,
scarecrows, candy and scary masks.
The seniors can use candy corns as bingo markers and
instead of
saying Bingo, have them shout, Happy Halloween.
Do the same for Valentines Day, and use conversation
hearts as bingo
markers. Award the game winners with holiday-themed

Marshmallow Toss
Hang a wreath or circle ring from the ceiling that is

approximately 6
inches in diameter.
Dust several large marshmallows with flour to keep
them from
getting sticky.
Mark a standing line 10 feet from the wreath or circle.
Give each senior 10 marshmallows to try to toss through
the wreath
or ring.
Award a prize to each senior who makes a marshmallow
through the
For added decoration, make the ring heart-shaped for
Valentines Day;
use a holiday wreath for Christmas; and use a

Balloon Volleyball
Use a small rope to hang across a room.
The seniors can sit in chairs or stand to play a game of

Divide the seniors into two teams. Each team will get on
one side of
the rope.
The seniors will hit the balloon back and forth like
Keep score, and the first team to score 10 points wins
the game.
For another balloon game, give each senior a balloon
and see who can
hit the balloon in the air the longest amount of time.

Brain and Mind Games

Seniors require mental stimulation and games that

improve the brain

and memory skills are beneficial.
The Nursing Home Activities Resource website suggests
games such as
crossword puzzles, board games such as chess, Sudoku,
Trivia games
and jigsaw puzzles.
To make these games free, play board games you
already own and
you can print out free puzzles and games from websites
online or
make your own!

Vacation Game
Have several people sit in a circle. Start thegameby

I am going on a trip to Florida and in my suitcase I am
taking a shirt.
Ask the person beside you to say the same thing but
add another item
to the suitcase.
The person will say, I am going on a trip to Florida and
in my suitcase
I am taking a shirt and a [fill in the blank].
Continue to play around the circle until it comes back to
You end the game by reciting the original saying and
remembering all
the items added to the suitcase.

Room Memorization
Ask a senior to look around a room they are familiar with

abedroom, then ask the person to leave the room for a
Switch a few things in the room or hide some things.
Ask the senior to return and tell you what has moved or
what is

Daily Journals
Help seniors write daily journals at the end of each day.
Ask them to remember each thing they did and write

each thing
Tell them to visualize their day if they are having trouble
remembering the things they did.
Make a game of it by trying to remember hour by hour.
Ask them to remember more each day than they did the
day before.
See who can remember the most details.

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