10 engaging games for people with dementia

Studies have shown that participating in mentally stimulating activities can help slow down cognitive decline and improve overall brain function in people living with dementia. 

Games can help with memory recall, decision-making, problem-solving, and other cognitive functions. One 2020 study showed that when people with dementia played games, they were able to improve a wide variety of cognitive abilities including reaction time and short-term memory.

Games can also provide social interaction and physical activity, both of which have been linked to improved mental and physical health in people with dementia. 

At Prestige Nursing & Care, we recognise the importance of finding ways to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. That’s why we’ve put together this list of engaging games that are designed to provide mental stimulation, promote social interaction and encourage physical activity. 

Things to Consider When Choosing Games for People with Dementia

When choosing games for people with dementia, it’s important to consider a variety of factors to ensure that the activity is both enjoyable and beneficial. One important consideration is to try and choose games that your loved one may recognise from their childhood. This not only provides a sense of familiarity but may also spark fond memories and create opportunities for conversation.

It’s also important to involve your loved one in the decision-making process. If they are able to communicate, ask them which game they would like to play. If they are in the later stages of dementia and unable to make a decision, give them a choice between a few options instead of deciding for them.

Another consideration is your loved one’s dexterity. It’s important to choose games they can physically handle, as motor skills may be affected by dementia. Adapted versions of popular games with larger pieces are available, so keep this in mind when selecting games.

Lastly, consider the level of mental stimulation provided by the game. Games that encourage problem-solving, decision-making and memory recall are ideal for people with dementia. Choose games that are not overly complex or overwhelming, but still provide a challenge to keep the mind active and engaged. 

What Games to Avoid 

When it comes to games for people with dementia, it’s important to choose activities that are engaging but also appropriate for their cognitive abilities. Although you should always tailor the games you choose to the preferences of your loved one, here are some games you may want to avoid:

  • Complex strategy games that may highlight what they cannot do rather than what they can
  • Word-based games at later stages of dementia when word recall is difficult
  • Time-pressured games that don’t encourage social interaction and can cause stress
  • Games with too much movement that can be overwhelming
  • New games or technology that may be too difficult to learn or navigate. Sticking with familiar games can reduce frustration and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

10 Engaging Game Ideas for People with Dementia 


Playing dominoes can be highly beneficial for people with dementia. Not only can it provide mental stimulation and help improve cognitive function, but it can also encourage social interaction. The black and white tiles are easy to see and the concept of the game is easy to understand even if someone is not originally familiar with it. 

Dominoes require players to use problem-solving skills to match numbers on tiles, which can help with memory recall and decision-making. The physical act of moving tiles and placing them on the table can also help with dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

Jigsaw Puzzles 

Jigsaw puzzles are an excellent choice for people with dementia as long as you can ensure all the pieces are present. Puzzles can help improve cognitive function, problem-solving skills and memory recall. Completing a puzzle can also provide a fun sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem. 

Jigsaw puzzles come in various sizes, including smaller ones that fit perfectly on a small table and won’t take too long to solve. A wide range of jigsaw puzzles with wholesome and pleasant pictures are readily available and can offer great replay value.

Card Games

Card games are an excellent option for people with dementia since they might already be familiar to the person. The cards themselves may also visually jog one’s memory. 

A stripped-down version of “War” is a great starter game, where each player turns over one card, and the highest card wins, taking the other cards. The winner is the player with the most cards at the end of the deck. 

People with dementia may also enjoy sorting the cards, whether by suit, colour, or value. However, games that include lying or deception, like poker, should be avoided.


Just like card games, bingo can be great fun for people with dementia as it triggers long-term memory and is a familiar activity. Simplified bingo boards with fewer numbers and larger print are best to start with. You can either purchase suitable boards or make them yourself.

If your loved one finds numbers challenging, you can replace them with animals or any other pictures they like. Remember that Bingo is a social activity that can help your loved one interact with others, so make it a fun activity by getting family and friends involved. 

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders is a universal and nostalgic board game, making it an ideal choice for people with dementia. The game’s simple rules and bright colours make it easy to see and understand. Playing with grandchildren or other family members can create positive social interactions and memories. 

Preschool editions of the game are available, featuring larger pieces and dice. This can make it easier for people with dementia to handle the pieces and play. Snakes and Ladders is an excellent way to stimulate the mind and provide enjoyable entertainment for those with dementia.

Word Puzzles 

People with dementia often find it challenging to recall certain words, so word puzzles can be a great way to stimulate the mind and improve memory recall. For instance, try having your loved one complete popular expressions and phrases such as, “an apple a day, keeps…”. 

Another fun activity is a simplified trivia game, where you give hints about common objects and ask your loved one to name them. For example, you can describe a round, metal object with a handle used to cook food and have them try to answer “frying pan.” These games not only provide cognitive benefits but also create enjoyable experiences and positive memories.

Dice Games 

Dice games are a great way to challenge the brain while having fun. The element of luck involved in most dice games, such as Yahtzee and Bar Dice, can be particularly enjoyable for people with dementia. 

Additionally, research suggests that practising numerical and calculation skills through dice games may be beneficial for individuals with cognitive conditions. Backgammon, Kismet, Liar’s Dice, Shut the Box, and Yahtzee are just a few examples of brain-stimulating dice games to try. With their simple rules and portability, dice games can easily be enjoyed at home or while out and about.

Board Games 

Board games provide an opportunity for social interaction and can be a fun activity for family and friends to enjoy together. Many board games are also simple to learn, and the instructions are usually included in the box. For those with dementia, simpler board games with larger pieces and simpler instructions may be more appropriate. 

Additionally, games that stimulate memories and recall, such as Trivial Pursuit, can be especially beneficial. Games that involve strategy, like Chess, are also great for stimulating the brain and improving cognitive function.

Noughts and Crosses or Connect Four 

Noughts and Crosses, also known as Tic-Tac-Toe and Connect Four, are simple and enjoyable games that can be played with minimal instruction. These games promote simple strategic thinking, memory retention, and hand-eye coordination. The physical manipulation of game pieces can also provide a tactile and sensory experience. 

While you can always play with just pen and paper, tabletop versions of these games are available, making them easier to see and manipulate for those with failing eyesight. 


Draughts is a classic game that is easy to learn and play, yet challenging enough to keep the mind active. It only involves a few types of pieces and simple movements, making it an ideal game for people with dementia. 

The game can be played with a physical board and pieces or even on a tablet or computer for those who prefer a digital version. Playing draughts can help improve cognitive function, as it requires planning, problem-solving and spatial reasoning skills.

Dementia Care in the Comfort of Home 

Games can be a powerful tool for those with dementia, offering entertainment and engagement while helping to stimulate cognitive functions. Playing games with a loved one can also foster a sense of connection and bring back fond memories. 

At Prestige Nursing & Care, we understand the value of incorporating engaging activities like games into our care plans to promote the best possible quality of life for our clients living with dementia.

We believe that everyone living with dementia deserves the highest level of care provided in the comfort and safety of home. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive care that promotes independence and enhances overall well-being, for all of life. 

We are here to take your call and will provide impartial support and guidance – contact our friendly care experts today to discuss your care needs.

0808 239 1525


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