Adapting and modifying games for seniors is necessary for all sorts of different reasons. As well as for those living with dementia, games need to be modified for those who use wheelchairs and those with impaired vision or sensory loss.
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Participating in various types of games, be it board games, ball games, or card games, provides valuable mental stimulation and social opportunities for people living with dementia. 

Benefits of Playing Games

In the context of long-term care, the value of games goes far beyond mere entertainment. 

Playing games can offer a wide range of benefits for seniors and can enhance cognitive function, emotional well-being, and social connections, contributing to a richer quality of life.

Benefits can include:

  • Lifts Spirits
  • Promotes Laughter
  • Improves Coordination
  • Relieves Stress
  • Encourages Reminiscing
  • Builds camaraderie
  • Increases focus
  • Fosters cooperative behaviour

Adapting Games to Match Abilities

For Activity Coordinators, the challenge is to identify games that align with the cognitive and physical abilities of clients at various stages of dementia.

It's essential to adapt games not just for those with dementia, but also for seniors with other specific needs, such as wheelchair users or those with sensory impairments.

The key is to keep it simple and use your expertise to adjust activities accordingly. If something isn't working, it's okay to change course. When selecting games, it is important not to over-estimate what your clients are capable of, the objective is to enjoy the activity while connecting with others and/or learning a new skill. However, don’t underestimate your clients either! Very often they will surprise you with their hidden talents.

7 Games to Adapt for People Living with Dementia

The activities below are adaptable and aim to offer fresh inspiration for enhancing your Activity Program and promoting laughter, enjoyment, and social engagement.


Jenga is a wooden block game that promotes physical coordination and concentration. Players build a tower and take turns removing and stacking blocks, making the tower increasingly unstable. It's simple to set up and suitable for most people. Adapt the game according to the ability of players, such as by starting with a shorter tower for quicker rebuilds.


Qwirkle is a game similar to dominos but with colored shapes. Players match colors and shapes. To adapt for seniors with dementia, consider reducing the number of tiles each player starts with or focus solely on color-matching or shape-matching rather than both,

Say Anything

This game is an ideal way to socialize with new clients.  It involves open-ended questions on cards and dry-erase boards for writing answers. The questions spark conversation and reveal personal preferences. For seniors with dementia, you could have a designated person write answers for them, making it easier to participate and share their thoughts.

Vintage Spinning Tops

Spinning tops, especially the traditional wooden ones with a short iron tip and string, can evoke fond memories for many seniors, including those with dementia. The simple act of winding them up and watching them spin can provide not only a boost in motor skills but also a pathway to reminiscence about their youth. 


Quoits is an age-old game that can be played both indoors and outdoors, involving six rope rings and a wooden spike. Players position themselves at a set distance from the spike and take turns throwing the rings. The aim is to loop as many rings as possible over the spike. This game provides an opportunity to improve hand-eye coordination and is easily adaptable and enjoyable for participants of various ability levels.

Bean Bag Games

Bean bag games are highly versatile, suitable for activities like target practice, tossing, juggling, clapping and catching, or indoor shuffleboard. Whether homemade or purchased, these games are easily adaptable for seniors with dementia, offering a range of options to improve motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Bean Bag Toss Game


Charades is a lively game that can be easily adapted for seniors, including those with dementia. Players use acting to silently convey words or phrases to their team. Start with simple words and progress to themes like TV shows or movies, allowing participants to engage both physically and cognitively.

Charades Game Templates

15 More Game Ideas for People Living with Dementia

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Comments   Post a Comment

Christine 22nd Jul 2023 Resident Enrichment Assistant
This is the best site! It has made my job so much easier and is such a blessing for all of my clients.

Thank you!!!
Susan 21st Aug 2023 Activity Director
Hi Christine thank you for your kind words
Glad this makes your job easier. You must be a great activity Director.
Sam 25th Oct 2022
I just discovered your site by chance! I’ve just started a new role as wellness & lifestyle coordinator for a dementia specific facility.

Im so excited to be part of the golden carers community - a wealth of knowledge & resources.

Thank you!
Susan 9th Nov 2022 Activity Director
Hi Sam
Thank you for your kind words
You are right there are many good activities here
Debbie 29th Jun 2021
These ideas are fantastic! Thank you so much and please add me to your list.
Susan 5th Apr 2021 Activity Director
Here is a game I think some residents will love
Caroline 18th Mar 2021
Hello all,
This is my first post, I’ve been an activities co-ordinator now for only two weeks, I’m struggling to motivate the men in my home, I work with elderly mentally ill with challenging behaviour, mainly late stages of dementia, apart from throwing a ball or dominoes nothing else seems to interest them. . . . Help please
Susan 19th Mar 2021 Activity Director
Hi Caroline
First of all congratulations on your new job
Two weeks is hardly enough time to get to know the residents
The group you were talking about is very challenging so you need to use any help at your disposal
Talk to the staff and family members to see what these men used to like
The fact that you get them played ball games and dominoes is greatMaybe you can extend these activities by relating something else to them
You might want to try balloon activities because they’re similar balls
If you do trivia give the residents a choice of two answers and asked him to pick the right one that way they have a 50% chance of being right or do True and false trivia
You might want to try your matching games especially those with cars or other things men might like
Here are some other men’s activities that might help you
Before you spend a lot of time planning and actively make sure you find out the interests of you group
I find food to be a great motivation to get participation
With this group of residents
A lot of it is trial and error
What works one day may not work the next
Hi find that using my I triple E formula helps to make and the activity successful
That is you need to involve everyone
Be excited enthusiastic and engaging
I would think of it as putting on a performance
There is a lot of material here if you need any more help let me know

Julie 6th Apr 2020
I'm a Lifestyle Co-ordinator work with residents with Dementia and various illnesses.They are in lockdown because of Coronavirus. Some miss their loved ones.
Need more ideas what we can do to stimulate the residents. More ideas welcome please.
Talita 27th Apr 2020
Hi Julie, we have many article and activity ideas to help you through the coronavirus pandemic here: All the best to you.
Susan 2nd Mar 2020 Activity Director
Wow Adele what a great game you gave to your residents
So glad they enjoyed it
Adele 1st Mar 2020 Activitiy Director
I gave the residents GIANT Jenga for Christmas. They love this game. We put it on a coffee table and residents in wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or residents that cannot be on their fee to long are able to play. It can also be played from the floor with a solid base. The only warning i can give is when it falls down it is very loud!! LOL
Diane 14th Jan 2020
I recently played the game Barrel of Monkeys with my mom, and she loved it! She was engaged the entire time we played. On her turn she was well focused, and on my turn she suggested moves and encouraged me the whole time. <3
Susan 14th Jan 2020 Activity Director
Hi Diane I am not familiar with barrel of monkeys can you explain how to play it
Thank you
Bibi 19th Oct 2019
Hi can u give me some ideas for creating a game for dementia people
Susan 21st Oct 2019 Activity Director
Hi Bibi
I think the games listed here are pretty good is there something specific you had in mind ??
Ruth boland 22nd Sep 2019
I work in a small country town nursing home in the Dementia section. We have a lady who calls out 90% of the time she is good while she has one on one with you. But if she can’t get that she calls out constantly can you give me some ideas I might be able for her to curb the calling out. Please and thanks
Susan 23rd Sep 2019 Activity Director
Ruth have you tried a tape player with headphones that you can put on the resident
We had a resident like this and that seemed to help sometimes
Cheryl 2nd Sep 2019 Volunteer
Play a dice game called "Tenzie". There are about 4-5 ladies in a dementia group that enjoy this. I sit with them & give help when needed, I bought this at our local HALLMARK store.

Susan 3rd Sep 2019 Activity Director
Hi Cheryl
Could you give us more information about the dice game Tenzi

Could you put the comment in the forum section which says start a new discussion
Thank you
Susan 21st Aug 2019 Activity Director
Maybe you can get a tape player or an iPad or iPod and play music for her to listen to or maybe a story for her to listen to see if this helps
Janet zeller 20th Aug 2019
I have just started as a diversional therapist. I have a resident who calls out all day. She is quiet when someone is with her and I have been including her in activities but as soon as we stop she starts yelling out again. It is gettIng very annoying for e anyone. Can you give me some ideas.
James K. Ross 2nd Aug 2019
I am an Life Enrichment Leader in the Memory Care unit at our facility. I would love to be added to whatever email or newsletter with ideas you guys have. THANKS.
Talita 2nd Aug 2019
Thanks James, I have added you to our mailing list. All the best!
anita cooney 11th May 2019
Private caregiver of 88 year women with 4th stage of Alzheimer's ( so say the Doctors:)..
It is my goal every day to get her moving and happy for some parts of the day.
We enjoy doing chair Hokey Pokey. Make up fun names for different chair exercises: like when lifting arms up we sing " I will fly away". when walking " play marching songs", brush your teeth songs.. I found music really helps us all through the day! .. My Dear client has had Rheumatoid arthritis for years. The damage has caused much damage to feet and hands/knees. She loves to Sing and remembers old nursery rhymes. She has learned ( shocking right) how to use my cell phone.. slides the finger across and how to hold it still for you tube songs! She does not speak much but we Sing and sing out loud! Great for her lungs! And when I get her up off the Potty chair.. and cleaned I have her put her hands on my shoulders.. while pulling up depends- afterwards we hug and sway to me singing. So play music, sing with joy. I am working on making drums and music chimes maybe...
lily 27th Jan 2019
Hi im Lily im new too.Im taking over a Thursday club for the elderly some are active and some are not just looking for new ideas about games and stuff to do iv being reading a lot of your ideas and they really seem interesting and fun im in this club with three years and just being asked to run it so id be delighted with any ideas thanks very much
Cynthia Philipoom 16th Nov 2018
I use to play rummy with one of my clients. She was very good at and it helped her memory.
Talita 18th Nov 2018
Rummy is a great classic game, thanks for the reminder Cynthia!
Desiree 2nd Sep 2018
Hi there! When I worked with adults, I used logic games: Rush Hour, Chocolate Fix, Smart Cookies, and Clever Castle. I also played Taboo, Pictionary, Boggle, Scrabble, Charades, and Scattergories. You can often find these games at Thrift Stores, like Goodwill, or yard sales. I hope this helps!
Talita 3rd Sep 2018
Thanks Desiree, yes you are quite right, many a treasure can be found in a thrift shop!
Sherippa London 24th Jan 2018
Hello, I'm new here. I just became a Director at a community and I am looking for new activities to do with our residents. I'm open to all and any suggestions. I especially need for seniors that can see and hear but cannot move.
Talita 26th Aug 2018
Welcome Sherippa! Perhaps this article could be relevant:
Julie 5th Jul 2017 Activities Coordinator
Just joined cannot believe the amount of ideas and support for activity coordinators
I was running out of ideas to keep residents stimulated not any more.
Thank you
Talita 5th Jul 2017
Thank you so much for your feedback Julie!!
Analia 6th Feb 2017
How do you get residents to want to participate
Pat 23rd Aug 2018 Volunteer
What I do is, I get all the residents to gather around. I prefer this exercise in the morning after their breakfast. Use some upbeat music like 50s 60s cha-cha... do an exercise like exercising with the noodles. Lots of verbalizing ... "One Two cha-cha -Cha" They get very energetic. However, if some are still sleeping... go to them in person and try to move in front of them... I have been successful if having everyone laughing and enjoying every moment. Even if they don't participate, they enjoy watching.... Good Luck !!!
Corie 7th Jan 2017
We have a company called Living Well senior care we do a lot of activities with clients with dementia in the home as well as in facilities I have personally used these games on several occasions and they do work wonders it's all about giving folks their independence and making them feel like their day is worth living . Thank you so much for sharing
Talita 9th Feb 2017
Thank you so much for your feedback Corie.
Golden Carers is the Lifestyle Bible!
Talita 27th Jul 2016
Oh Karen, thank you! Your feedback is so much appreciated.
Kathleen 7th Oct 2016 Support Worker / RAO
Christina 6th Jul 2016 recreational officer
I agree with Patrice!!!
Talita 6th Jul 2016
Thank you Christina! Much appreciated!
Patrice 22nd Jun 2016 Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
I just love this site. I get so much new information from it daily. You are angels in disguise. Thank you so much!!!
Talita 22nd Jun 2016
Patrice, thank you so much for your lovely words!!
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