12 Best Memory Games for Seniors & People with Dementia

12 Best Memory Games for Seniors & People with Dementia

By Bianca Ansbro-Elliott on, April 04, 2023

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When it comes to living with dementia, some of the cognitive challenges that ensue may include trouble with memory, thinking, reasoning, or language.

Yet, many innovative approaches to treatment can aid in alleviating these symptoms while activating the brain and incorporating a little bit of fun. Games have a magical way of bringing people together, making them a great way to bond with others and a fun activity to build new memories with your family or friend living with dementia.

In this blog, we discuss how memory games for seniors and people living with dementia can support cognition, and we list some of the top memory games for people with dementia to play.

Why Are Memory Games Good For People With Dementia?

Consider your brain another muscle that needs to be exercised to function and operate to its best capacity! Mind-stimulating games for the elderly will do just that.

Certain types of memory games can help people living with dementia stimulate and challenge their brains in different ways. Brain exercises can support the function of brain cells and even cultivate the growth of new brain cells.

The top forms of cognitive games for dementia include:

  • Board games can support cognitive abilities, including memory skills, communication, and emotional regulation.
  • Video games vary and change depending on which game you play. However, all help with brain training, short-term memory support, reasoning and problem-solving skills.
  • Trivia games are a great way to harness memory skills and reasoning while sprinkling in some nostalgic fun. This type of game requires only minimal setup, which is a nice bonus. Trivia topic suggestions include musicals, current affairs, history, general knowledge, sports, literature, movies and TV shows.
  • Crossword puzzles and other word puzzles help individuals living with dementia with their memory and offer a chance to destress, too.

One study that researched brain games and dementia found that individuals living with early-stage and middle-stage dementia who play can improve a wide variety of brain health, including:

  • Short-term memory
  • Socialising
  • Reaction time
  • Problem-solving
  • Logical reasoning
  • Communication

Memory games aid critical thinking and imagination while nurturing attention to detail. They encourage visual recognition and enhance the ability to spot differences.

A little friendly competition paired with the free-flowing conversation that comes along with playing games helps support social interaction while encouraging togetherness. There is nothing better than bonding with someone in your life over a great game!

Let’s get into our top suggestions for excellent dementia brain games, all available at Relish.

1. Autumn Leaves Memory Game

Autumn Leaves is an easy memory and matching game for seniors that encourages them outside to breathe in the fresh air, stretch their legs and change their environment.

To play, follow these steps:

  1. Pick up various leaves, focusing on different colours and shapes.
  2. Head back inside.
  3. Support your loved one in trying to remember the name of the leaf and who picked it.

Suitable for early-to-mid stages of dementia.

An image of autumn leaves, a suggested memory game for adults with dementia.

2. Memory Tray

To play Memory Tray, grab a tray from around the house and place a number of random items onto it, preferably in different colours and shapes. Then, allow everyone to talk about each object before taking one away and getting the group to guess what’s missing.

Suitable for early stages of dementia.

An image of the memory tray game. It’s an easy memory game for seniors, especially those with dementia, to play. Add items to a tray, remove one item when no one is looking, and ask people to recall which object is missing.

3. Hobbies Conversation Game

Hobbies Conversation game is a card game that offers prompts to encourage rich conversation and discussion around hobbies and interests. Each card offers a different question to help form opinions, share ideas, and stimulate the mind.

Suitable for early stages of dementia.

A picture of the dementia brain game Hobbies Conversation. It is a card game with dice that helps people with dementia talk about their hobbies and interests.

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4. Musical Bingo

Musical Bingo is a great way to get a group together to spend quality time! This game is audio based and asks players to listen to prompts while trying to capture the different instruments until someone can make a match to yell bingo.

Suitable for early stages of dementia.

Musical bingo memory game for people with dementia

5. A Roll Down Memory Lane

With Roll Down Memory Lane, you can look back at the past with joy. This game uses word prompts and imagery to support brain health, long-term memory and bonding time with others. It is also a chance to share happy memories with others and feel heard and seen.

Suitable for early stages of dementia.

A collection of pictures from the past. Exploring old memories is a good brain game for seniors with dementia.

6. Tactile Matching Game

The Tactile Matching Game is a wonderful way for people who like to use their senses. This game allows players to touch and feel common textures and invites them to group them together by association or match them to the images. It's a fantastic way to strengthen memory while supporting purpose and pride.

Suitable for late stages of dementia.

Tactile Matching Game is a cognitive game for dementia. People explore different textiles and textures and match them to the images.

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7. Spot the Odd Word

Spot the Odd word is a purposeful word game in which the player must discover which word or topic does not match the topic and wrongly sticks out. This game is really versatile and can be made as complex or as easy and as unique as possible.

Suitable for early stages of dementia.

Spot the Odd Word is an easy memory game for seniors or people living with dementia

8. Walk Back Through Time with Scents

Enjoy a reminiscent walk back into decades past with the help of your five scents. This game involves curating a wide range of items around the house, such as dish soap, cologne, essential oil, soap, candy, etc., and exploring the details of the object, encouraging dialogue about old memories and what they may mean to them. This can be a nice sentimental game that aids in connection, especially for older adults.

Suitable for late stages of dementia.

A memory game for Alzheimer’s is to collect a group of scents from around the house. Here, there is a group of perfume and cologne bottles.

9. Animal Kingdom Quiz

This Animal Kingdom quiz helps keep people with early stages of dementia keep their brains sharp, and animal lovers, in particular, will be drawn to this game. Here, a designated host will explain the animal's details, such as their location or habitat, and the players must guess the animal's name. It’s a great group game.

Suitable for early stages of dementia.

An image of a dog, which is part of the Animal Kingdom Quiz dementia brain game

10. Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a fun way to tackle independent or group play without getting overwhelmed. They are excellent brain training games that can bring up old memories and encourage great discussion. Pick the puzzle by your loved one's interests and their current capabilities. 100-piece puzzles are better for those in the early stages of dementia, while those in the mid-late stages will find 13-piece puzzles more suitable.

Suitable for various capabilities.

A jigsaw puzzle showing a flowery garden scene. Jigsaw puzzles are great mind-stimulating games for elderly people.

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11. Animal Snap

With Animal Snap, no two cards are the same. Fostering togetherness, players will turn over a card and then add their own cards that are similar and of the same category. This game promotes excellent brain training for people with dementia.

Suitable for mid stages of dementia.

Category Snap shows cards with different images, such as vehicles or food. It’s a good cognitive game for people with dementia

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12. Memory Box

Help anchor to the past with a Memory Box. Fill the box with items that spark joy and are meaningful for whatever reason! Photographs, books, flowers, jewellery, or even a memorable scent. Revisit the box regularly to connect to happy memories and have a conversation about the past.

A memory box containing memorable items such as cards, dried flowers and jewellery. Revisiting memories is a good mind game for seniors experiencing memory loss

Conclusion

Science has helped us to understand that people with dementia can truly benefit from games that stimulate their brains while promoting better mental health and improving memory. The main focus is finding a game that is best suited based on the stage of dementia so that it's not frustrating or stress-inducing but fun and upbeat. Once you find the game or games that work, play as often as possible to reap the benefits properly. Find out your or your loved one’s dementia stage here.

Relish develops dementia-friendly games and toys that help promote wellbeing and joy for people living with dementia. Browse the full range here.

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