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.
This is one of many free activities.
Golden Carers has 1000s of activities and resources for senior care.

Games are one of the oldest forms of social interaction. Be it board games, ball games, or card games - games bring people together in a way that is stimulating and fun.

Benefits of Playing Games

Game playing in long term care facilities & nursing homes offers clients much more than just entertainment. The impact that playing games has on the health and well-being of individuals has been well documented.

Playing games provides an important source of relaxation, socialization and mental stimulation. It helps with coordination and dexterity, and fosters cooperation.

Other benefits that may be observed in clients engaged in games include:

  • Alertness
  • Creativity
  • Mindfulness
  • Reminiscing
  • Laughter
  • Changed demeanour
  • Cooperative behaviour

Adapting Games to Match Abilities

The challenge for Activity Coordinators is to find the right games to match the skills and interests of clients with the stage of dementia they are going through.

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.

So keep it simple; you will know best how to modify games for your clients. Don’t be hard on yourself, if something is not working out as desired, change course. When playing games, it is important not to over-estimate what your clients are capable of, the objective is to enjoy the activity and focus on the experience 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 abilities.

7 Games to Adapt for People Living with Dementia

The following activities will hopefully give you some new ideas to add to your Activity Program to vitalize your clients with laughter, enjoyment, and socialization.


Jenga is a wooden block stacking game promoting physical skills. Players build a tower and take turns removing a block from the tower and balancing it on top of tower, making it increasingly unstable. It is easy to set up and suits most people. The game finishes when the tower falls apart. Adapt the game according to the ability of clients e.g. make the tower shorter and faster to rebuild.


Colourful game similar to dominos. The game’s rules are to match colours and shapes promoting tactical manoeuvres and planned strategies.

Say Anything

This game is an ideal way to socialise with new clients. It consists of a series of cards with questions and dry eraser boards on which to answer them. The questions are open-ended which means they express personal taste and interpretation, instead of being influenced by feelings. You may adapt the game to suit the needs of clients e.g. by having a designated person to write answers.

Vintage Spinning Tops

Many clients will remember them and will be pleased to wind them up and play as they once did in their youth. Try to get the traditional wooden ones with a short iron tip and string.


Ancient game to be played indoors or outdoors. It consists of six rope rings and a wooden spike. Players sit back three metres (or less) from spike and throw rings. The person with the most rings on the spike is the winner. This game is a good one to improve hand-eye coordination.

Bean Bags

Versatile game ideal to target, toss, juggle, clap & catch, or indoor shuffleboard. They can be homemade in all shapes and sizes or purchased online. Bean Bag Toss Game


A fun game that can be adapted for seniors. All word cards contain an acting word or words to be acted silently to the opposite team. Start with simple words and graduate to themes such as TV shows and famous movies. See instructions and download templates on Golden Carers.

15 More Game Ideas for People Living with Dementia

Help us add to this list of games for people living with dementia!
What games have you found to work well?

Save time with 1000's of meaningful
activity ideas for every occasion.

Enter your email address to collect your free activities.

✓ 100% Privacy ✓ No Spam

Comments   Post a Comment

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!!
No Avatar