If you spend a lot of time with an ageing loved one, you may notice them misplacing things or becoming a bit more forgetful. While frequent forgetfulness or memory loss may be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, typically, it is just a normal part of ageing. And although it may not be entirely preventable, memory games for seniors can slow down the process.

Much like the body, keeping the brain active is important at all stages of life. Memory games and cognitive training exercises can serve as a mental exercise that reduces the risk of cognitive decline and are a simple way to improve your loved one’s problem-solving skills and memory. They are also fun and engaging activities for seniors.

There are a number of factors that make certain games ideal for older adults:

  • Formats. Memory games come in a range of different formats, from online games and apps to classic board games that can provide opportunities for social interaction. It all depends on what your loved one is comfortable with.
  • Difficulty level. It’s important that you find games for your loved one that are challenging but not overly frustrating. Ideally, they will start slowly with some beginner games and then gradually progress to harder games for more challenging problem-solving and memory tasks.
  • Type of game. You should pick games that your loved one enjoys playing. There are so many types of memory games to choose from, they shouldn’t be forced to do something they don’t enjoy. At the same time, it is important to vary the types of brain training games they do. For instance, if they’re looking for more social interaction, look for memory games where they can play with others — either in person or online.

In terms of easy memory games for seniors, they can be free, free to start and/or available on subscription. However, here, we’ve only covered free games as we are mindful that many seniors are on a tight budget.

Free memory games for seniors

In terms of free memory games for seniors, there are three basic types — games that can be played online, via a downloaded app or non-electronic games.

Online games

BrainCurls

This website has a variety of different games to get your loved one’s brain working and flex their problem-solving muscles. It features a series of different games and is simple to access and play.

SharpBrains

This is a comprehensive list of 25 different memory games and brain teasers that is easy to navigate and filled with riddles, optical illusions and games. It is ideal for those who aren’t quite sure what types of games they are interested in.

Daily Word Search

This is a web-based version of the classic word search game. A new puzzle is offered every day, and there are word searches at different difficulty levels (each puzzle has three different variations), so it’s ideal for both beginners and pros.

Brain Trainer

This is a free flash game that mixes logic, number and memory games to introduce a new puzzle every day. It offers a training mode and allows your loved one to track their scores so they can monitor their progress.

Tetris

This is a classic game that is fun and simple to play. It gets more challenging as you go and is competitive as it has a leaderboard and allows your loved one to track their scores.

Solitaire

Another popular classic your loved one can play by themselves, it will train their brain to notice patterns and give their memory a workout.

Daily Crossword

This game will test your loved one’s knowledge and recall ability. It is easy to access and offers a new crossword every day.

Memozor

This game will test your loved one’s memory. It offers a variety of matching memory games, and they can play alone or against their computer!

Chess

This game allows your loved one to challenge their computer or friends online to determine who is the best player. It also offers chess lessons so they can improve their skills.

Checkers

Checkers is a little less strategic than chess but still requires your loved one to think ahead and predict their opponent’s moves. It has different difficulty settings and is easy to play.

TriviaPlaza

This game allows your loved one to test their knowledge of just about any topic, exercise their brain power and force them to recall knowledge. It has simple navigation, a variety of different trivia subjects, and your loved one can play to beat the average score.

TheJigsawPuzzles

Puzzles are one of the best brain exercises for older adults, as it forces them to use parts of their brain they don’t use often. It offers hundreds of puzzles with different difficulty levels, mystery puzzles every day, and in terms of puzzle pieces, go up to 5000!

Apps

Wheel of Fortune

One of the most popular game shows, Wheel of Fortune is a word game that will not only train your loved one’s brain, but it’s also a whole lot of fun to play! There are different versions of the game, and it also has a competitive mode.

Mensa Brain Training

The games on this app are designed by industry experts and accredited by Mensa, ensuring your loved one gets results. They target five disciplines, including concentration, memory, perception, agility and reasoning — all areas that older adults should maintain as they age.

4 Pics 1 Word

This game displays four pictures with something in common, which is the word your loved one has to guess. It unlocks new levels as they guess correctly and is somewhat addictive!

Sudoku

Another classic game, this app offers thousands of puzzles with varying levels of difficulty. There is an online leaderboard with score tracking, so if your loved one enjoys crossword puzzles, they will probably also enjoy sudoku.

Hidden Objects

This game will challenge your loved one to locate objects in difficult puzzles. This will train their brain to recognise and identify details, and there are a variety of quests and riddles to complete.

Smart Brain

This game provides a wide range of brain and logic puzzles that are excellent for strengthening and developing your loved one’s brain. Completing challenges with increasing difficulty can help improve concentration, reaction time and memory. There are hundreds of puzzles, over 200 levels and an emoji quiz that will test your loved one’s IQ.

Personal Zen

This app is a little different. It is a brain game that’s focused on improving your loved one’s mental health by reducing their stress and anxiety. It uses principles based on 20 years of neuroscience research and has been found to be effective in clinical studies. A single session can help, however, regular use will help improve your loved one’s mental health in the long term.

Lumosity

Backed by science, this app offers the choice of free and premium membership. The free version offers three brain training games a day.

Elevate

This was one of Apple’s Apps of the Year and is a premium brain training app that’s more of a system than a one-off game. It will help your loved ones build their communication and analytical skills through a personalised brain training program. It offers free and premium membership. The free version gives your loved one access to three games a day.

CogniFit Brain Fitness

CogniFit is a healthcare company with its very own app designed to strengthen cognitive health, and it was developed by neuroscience experts. It is backed by science, and it works by performing a range of tests to see where your loved one’s baseline is. It then offers tasks and games to assess and strengthen over 20 cognitive skills.

Brainwell Mind Brain Training

This free app includes a variety of brain training games to build your loved one’s attention, memory and critical thinking skills. It offers three new games every day to keep things interesting, and your loved one can share their scores online and challenge their friends.

Neuro Nation

Neuro Nation performs an analysis to assess your loved one’s potential and strengths and creates a personal training plan to meet their needs. The brain exercises have been developed in collaboration with research partners and scientists, and they are scientifically designed to help reduce stress, and improve memory, concentration and thinking speed. New exercises and courses are published regularly.

Peak

This app offers games that are both fun and educational. They allow your loved ones to build their cognitive skills and memory and track their metrics.

Duolingo

This app allows your loved one to learn another language at their own pace through interactive lessons and games. Learning another language has been proven to help improve brain health, particularly in the elderly, and there are a wide selection of languages available to learn.

Memrise

This is another app that focuses on teaching your loved one a new language through audio clips and videos that feature games and fun activities via native language speakers. The learning engine also adapts the difficulty to your loved one’s needs.

Memorado

This is a highly effective brain training app that starts with an assessment. It then provides your loved one with a personalised training schedule consisting of tasks and five daily games. It has five fields — concentration, speed, reaction, memory and logic and your loved one can set their own goals and monitor their progress.

Non-electronic games

Scrabble

In addition to improving strategic skills and memory function, Scrabble is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable multi-player games, so it also has social benefits. Plus, there is always some good-natured banter about whether or not a player’s contribution is actually a word!

Chess

Studies suggest that people over the age of 75 who play chess are less likely to develop conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Chess is a game of strategy that engages both the creative and logical sides of the brain, so it will strengthen your loved one’s memory functions and problem-solving abilities.

Jenga

This game allows players to take their time, it promotes physical skills and will help your loved one pay attention to detail. It pushes players to assess situations and determine which moves works best. It is an excellent way of keeping your loved one’s hands and mind busy and alert.

Solitaire

Solitaire can be played online, but also with a simple deck of cards. It can be played alone, different versions can be played, it is great for enhancing memory skills and is oh-so-relaxing!

Monopoly

You may not think of Monopoly as a typical memory game, but it actually does require a lot of thinking ahead. Your loved one will learn how to strategise, buy properties and track their money.

Backgammon

Backgammon relies on memory, strategy and arithmetic, and many older adults love this addictive strategic game as a source of mental exercise.

Bridge

Bridge has been around since the 1930s and maybe one of the most popular card games in the world and is one of the most popular memory games for seniors. It involves each player attempting to score points by defeating their opponents’ hands. Strategising and predicting other players’ movements will provide a mental workout for your loved one.

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