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Top Games For The Elderly: Games With Mental & Physical Benefits


Time to read 6 min

Swingball, Cannonball Drop Or Croquet? Fun Games For The Elderly

No matter how old we all get, we never really lose our childhood love for fun and games. Everyone has that game that instantly takes them back to playing with friends in the school playground. 

Although the older generation might not be as mobile as they used to be, we have a selection of games that are perfect for older players. From classic dominoes, giant Hi-Towers, and good old swingball - they'll definitely spark some wholesome nostalgia.

Playing games in your golden years isn't just about taking a trip down memory lane; they can be remarkable for our overall health and wellbeing. Strategic board games are very effective at keeping brains sharp and help reduce cognitive decline. 

Our garden games get us all active and into the sunshine, a light workout to fine tune motor skills and balance. Whether you're playing solo or in a group, we've narrowed down our top 19 games for the elderly that are not only fun but also offer mental and physical benefits.

Games For Brain Health

Keeping your brain mentally active and sharp is especially important as we get older. Studies show that elderly people who actively engage in mentally stimulating games can lessen their risk of dementia and other memory impairments. These board games will keep you on your toes, with a lot of strategy and problem-solving involved in order to crush your opponents.

1. Chess

A tried and tested classic, it will take a few go's to learn this invigorating game. To play a good game of chess, you’ll need to have a solid strategy up your sleeve to keep the other player second-guessing your next move. Your brain is in full problem-solving mode as you try to put his or her king into checkmate.

2. Draughts

Although it seems simple on paper, you’ll need to tap into your logical thinking to master Draughts. The key is to plan several key moves in advance in order to capture all of your opponent's pieces. Your memory and concentration are on high alert, as you're having to remember previous turns and anticipate future moves. Still confused? Here's an easy guide to get started.

3. Shut The Box Game

Anyone else remember playing this? It's the perfect solo game. I remember the tension of racing against the clock to successfully cover every number using dice throws to shut the box and win the game. This old-style tabletop game is a developmentally rich combo of strategy, mathematics, and problem-solving.

4. Mancala

A game as old as time, the stakes are high as you fight to capture more stones than your rivals. Mancala is a game that is fantastic for challenging your brain, as it constantly requires complex decision-making and recognising patterns. Need some help getting started? Read our simple guide.

5. Cribbage

Did you know that Cribbage is one of the earliest card games that is still being played today? It's the fastest player first, as the first to score 121 points from a series of card-playing rounds wins. We can see why it's such a big brain booster for the elderly, as you need to form quick mental calculations that enhance your arithmetic skills.

6. Dominoes

This is a great one for a nostalgia trip, whether you're playing solo or with others. There are a countless number of different ways to play Dominoes, all of which hack into your mathematical and concentration skills. So, it's no wonder that dominoes supports long-term cognitive health in older players.

7. Marble Solitaire

Marble Solitaire is a solo card game that’s terrific for whileing away an hour or two. You’ve got to quickly scheme to eliminate all the marbles from the board until only one remains. All of this planning and calculated decision-making does wonders for reducing cognitive decline.

Games For Physical Activity

We all know the common misconception that elderly people can't be physically active. While some are less mobile than others, this simply isn't true. Granted that any wild bungee-jumping days are mostly behind us as soon as 65 comes around, there's still an excellent choice of outdoor games that can enhance physical activity in older players.

8. Croquet

Croquet is an old-fashioned sport that used to be a garden staple during the summer when we were growing up. Players have to hit their balls through a six-hoop course to hit the centre peg and win. All of this swinging and aiming with the mallet is a gentle yet effective exercise, which also promotes joint flexibility in older adults. Get a grip on the rules by reading our easy guide.

9. Boules & Petanque

This lawn game is a big hit with older players, as you essentially aim to knock your ball towards the main target. The only frustrating part is watching your friends knock your ball out of the target zone on their turn! Boules & Petanque can pack a punch when it comes to physical health with the older generation, as aiming the ball helps with balance, and the repetitive bowling actions encourage muscle repair.

10. Badminton Set

We can imagine giving this a whirl in the garden when the sun's out on a Sunday afternoon. One of the more physically demanding activities on the list for elderly players, Badminton is a sport where you have to shoot and strike a shuttlecock over the net. The quick movements and turns prove beneficial for muscle coordination, reaction times, and overall balance.

11. Table Tennis Set

Table Tennis is a brilliant aerobic exercise for the elderly that is just as easy on the joints as it is to play. It can really get your blood pumping as you try to knock out your opponent. All of this competition raises your heart rate and reinforces your arm muscles.

12. Swingball Classic

Did anyone else have this in their back garden as a kid? It certainly brought out our competitive side. Our Swingball Classic is all about working the upper body as you continually hit the ball to swing around the spiral to gain points.

Games For Group Fun

Social isolation is an all-too-common problem with older adults, with 2 million people in England over the age of 75 living alone, according to Age UK. Group games are an efficient way to curb loneliness and enrich the social lives of elderly people. The following variety of games are guaranteed to get everyone laughing together.

13. Kubb Viking Chess

Rumour has it that Kubb was invented over 1000 years ago by Vikings with the game commonly referred to as Kubb Viking Chess. Simple to set up and even simpler to play, you all have to come together to knock over wooden blocks, known as kubbs, by throwing wooden batons at them. Don't miss our quick guide to help you get set up.

14. Hi-Towers

Hi-Tower is a timeless game that takes us way back. We remember the rush of pulling a block and carefully placing it on top of an increasingly unstable tower - just for it all to come crashing down. Larger blocks call for larger laughs, making it easy for older players to build, destroy, and build again.

15. Cannonball Drop

You’re never too old to learn a new game or two, and Cannonball Drop is full of nail-biting excitement. Marbles are placed on a lattice of sticks - your job is to work together to cautiously pull out a stick during each turn. Just don’t let the marbles fall!

16. Garden Quoits Set

A popular game at summer fetes back in the day,  Garden Quoits  is a quick game that will spark some friendly competition. Take it in turns to toss ring quoits over a wooden stake - spice things up by increasing distances and introducing new challenges.

17. Skittles

Skittles is all about one thing - lining up your skittles and bowling your ball to score that strike! All while your team cheers for you in the background. For older players with mobility issues, you can comfortably play sitting down by using a table as the ‘bowling lane’.

18. Backgammon

A game that we can all fondly picture playing during school, players will need a blend of strategy and luck to win Backgammon. Played in groups of two, you’re tasked with being the first one to remove all your checkers from the board through a series of dice rolls.

19. Carrom

Carrom has been an ancestral game in India for millennia. Your goal is to sink your nine counters, as well as the red queen, into the four corner pockets. You only have your finger to flick and strike counters. Having your friends and family gathered around makes it more exciting as they wave you on.