Games to Play at the Nursing Home

Card games are one senior-friendly option for nursing homes.
Card games are one senior-friendly option for nursing homes. (Image: deck of cards image by timur1970 from

Playing games at a nursing home has multiple functions. Games keep older adults engaged, stimulate brain function, provide a source of entertainment and socialization and make them feel at home. Board, card, computer, active and memory games are all options. The American Council on Exercises says that more active seniors are healthier, so physically active games are encouraged. Just like anyone, older adults get bored playing the same games repeatedly. Add variety to game choices.

Computer Games

According to Andrew Carle, a professor from George Mason University, computer brain games may delay Alzheimer symptoms. He recommends programs like Dakim (m)Power, which is exclusively for assisted living or nursing homes. Other less expensive options are and the Brain Fitness program by Posit Science. The advances in technology have opened up a whole new world of games for seniors living in nursing homes. With Nintendo’s Wii, older adults can enjoy virtual bowling tournaments or play tennis and golf.

Active Games

Active game options are “Simon Says,” wheelchair bowling, or a bean bag toss. You can play balloon toss in which one or many balloons are tossed in the air, and the object is not to let them touch the ground. You can ask older adults to close their eyes and try to identify an object that is passed around the group.

Board Games

Games like chess, checkers, Trivia Pursuit, Monopoly and Mah Jongg are a few examples of favorite nursing home board games. Bingo is another one that seniors may enjoy. Often the games that the older adults played in their younger years are their favorites.

Card Games

Bridge, poker, Pinochle and Gin Rummy are popular card games in the U.S. according to These games are enjoyed by seniors and encourage socialization with others. They only require a deck of cards and are easily played for long periods.

Memory Games

Memory games are as simple as sharing a favorite story or listing all the names of your grandchildren. Additionally, trivia games encourage memory recall and are entertaining. Seniors can also play visual memory games by putting objects on a tray, and then taking the tray away and seeing how many items are remembered. To make the memory games more active, ask individuals to remember a sequence of actions (clapping, snapping, tapping toes and so forth) ,and then repeat these actions in the same exact order. Play “Name That Tune,” and try to identify the song just played. Give clues and let seniors try to guess which famous celebrity you are describing.

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