The Best Memory Games for Dementia (and Why They Make a Difference)

Sep 25, 2023 | Assisted Living, Three Palms News

When your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, they likely will have difficulty with cognitive functions. These functions can include concentration, memory, language, and problem-solving.

It’s important for seniors with dementia to engage in activities that benefit their brain health. One way to do this is by playing memory games. These will help stimulate their brains and keep their minds active.

Studies show that games and puzzles promote cognitive activity and can result in better cognitive abilities for older adults who are at risk of developing dementia.

Playing games can help your loved one stimulate their brain and enjoy the time they spend playing. There are all types of games you can try – take a look at these memory games for dementia.


Bingo is a fun game that incorporates listening, concentration, and paying attention to your own card in case you get bingo. There are many different types of ways to play bingo. For example, there’s the traditional five in a row, getting a “postage stamp,” four corners, or completely covering the card.

Card Games

Card games are a great option because they involve hand-eye coordination and short-term memory. This is also an opportunity for socialization with fellow family members or friends. Here are some card games your loved one might enjoy:

  • Go Fish. This game incorporates memory because each player asks others for a match. Each player has five or seven cards, depending on how many people are playing. When it’s your turn, you can ask anyone if they have a card that matches one in your hand. If you get a match, you can remove that card from your hand, and you get to ask again. If the player doesn’t have the card you asked for, they’ll say “Go fish.” You then draw from the pile in the center.
  • War. This simple game only requires two people. You split the deck in half with the other player. Each person draws a card per round. Whoever has the higher card wins the round. The player with the most cards when you’re done wins.
  • Memory. You lay down all the cards face up and those playing get a minute to study them. Then, you flip them over. Each player tries to make a match. If they do make a match, they can flip again.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of games you can play with a deck of cards. This list may give you more ideas of what card games will most engage your loved one.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Hand-eye coordination and organization are both skills your loved one will practice when completing a jigsaw puzzle. Matching areas of similar color or pattern, placing pieces together, and a sense of pride and accomplishment when looking at the final product are all ways to boost your loved one’s brain health.

You can choose the level of difficulty by picking the number of pieces in the puzzle. If your loved one easily becomes engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle, those with larger pieces could provide hours of entertainment.

Your loved one may like doing puzzles but prefer fewer, larger pieces. Looking for puzzles with 100 or fewer pieces may work better. You can even find 10-piece puzzles with large pieces that are easy to grasp. It’s all about what fits your loved one’s needs the most.

seniors playing card games that help cognitive function together

Board Games

Board games can require logical reasoning, hand-eye coordination, and memorization. They present interesting visual elements. This includes the board, pieces, and cards that will give your loved one something to concentrate on and interact with. A study found that playing board games is connected with reduced decline in cognitive function.

Try games like:

  • Monopoly
  • Chutes and Ladders
  • Chess and Checkers
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Clue

You may choose a game that your loved one grew up playing and reconnect them with a childhood favorite. All these types of games can encourage social interaction and provide a source of joy to your loved one.

Video Games

While you may not think of video games as games for seniors, studies show that video games can help improve cognitive health in older adults.

Interactive video games can incorporate strategies like problem-solving and memory, engaging your loved one’s mind and helping to strengthen those skills. If your loved one has never played a video game before, this is an exciting opportunity to learn something new.

Games like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley are both calm, task-based games where your loved one can complete the sets of tasks to help maintain or enhance their island/farm.

There’s also Wii Sports, which incorporates movement and can be played with others.

Word Search and Crossword Puzzles

Sometimes, dementia can affect your loved one’s ability to find the right word. Doing word searches and crossword puzzles can do two important things. They help provide regular exposure to words and keep your loved one’s mind sharp as they search for the word or think of the word based on the given clues.

Word puzzles like Boggle might also be a fun option for your loved one. Dice with letters are placed in a container with a clear lid. You shake the container so different letters are facing up.

After setting the timer, you try to make as many words from connecting letters as possible. Whoever has the most words wins.

Excellence in Memory Care at East Ridge at Cutler Bay

East Ridge at Cutler Bay has a neighborhood dedicated to memory support: Palm Lane. Here, residents receive specialized care that prioritizes their choices, independence, and quality of life. Your loved one will get the care and support they deserve from compassionate staff.

Give us a call to learn more about Palm Lane, our memory support neighborhood, and how we can be a resource for you and your loved one.