Benefits of Playing Games for the Elderly

by | Apr 19, 2022

Playing games is not just for children; whether young or old, there are some incredible benefits to playing all sorts of games. This activity can be a stress-relieving, fun way to alleviate boredom that can lead to mental health issues down the road. Elderly people should be encouraged to play games of all kinds (board games, group games, physical games), and different benefits can be achieved depending on the type of game. With this in mind, we wanted to run you through just some of the benefits that elderly people can expect to receive from playing games.

Encouraging social interaction

Quality of life and social interaction go hand-in-hand, so this can be a massively important aspect when it comes to the wellbeing of our elderly. Playing games such as snakes and ladders in a group environment help to prevent the kind of loneliness and isolation that can be detrimental to the health of elderly people. When you consider that interaction and talk during the playing of games such as these also help to deepen friendships, it seems obvious that games can provide some excellent benefits.

The idea here is to choose a game that requires multiple players, in order to encourage the kind of social interaction we want to see.

Brain enhancement

Playing games keeps the mind sharp for a very long time and playing card games in particular help to improve short-term and long-term memory. Stimulating the brain through letters, colours, numbers etc. improves overall brain function too. Choosing card games that are popular with seniors, such as cribbage or rummy, is usually a good idea. Backgammon, trivial pursuit, and chess are also popular options. Number and word games like Sudoku and Scrabble also provide a fun and effective way to activate brain activity.

Reduce cognitive decline

The results here speak for themselves; a study conducted by the British Medical Journal found that the risk of dementia amongst board game players was 15% lower than for non-players. A similar study conducted by the Journal of Gerontology found that the more individuals played games, the higher their cognitive function appeared to be, and the less cognitive decline was shown. This evidence is powerful proof that games have the ability to stave off age-related cognitive decline, which is extremely reassuring.

Inspire happiness

We now know that playing board games triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, which are the body’s ‘feel good’ chemicals. These hormones have the power to improve both unconscious and conscious brain functions, which can leave an individual feeling content, compassionate, and cheerful.

A study conducted to find out the effects of jigsaw puzzles on older adults’ brain function found that the way the brain regulates distressing emotions while using jigsaw puzzles could be used to prevent chronic stress.

Physical activity

Physical group games can allow the elderly to improve stretch, reflexes, balance, coordination, and strength because of the quick action and decision-making required during these kinds of games.

Elderly people benefit from life-size, excitable games because they tend to involve more physical activity than simply sitting and playing a particular board game. Giant-size games require full body movements that can work great for elderly people.


Sydenham House is a residential care home in a delightful setting in the village of Blakeney, offering accommodation for up to 19 people.  We help our residents to lead active lives in friendly, comfortable surroundings, involving them in the local community whenever we can.  If you’d like to know more about how we can help the elderly continue to live fulfilled and comfortable lives, then take a look at our website  Or, if you we can be of further assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01594 517 015 – we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about caring for your loved one.