Dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform daily activities. It is a challenging and often heartbreaking condition, not only for the individual with dementia but also for their loved ones and caregivers. Board games have been found to be an effective way to promote cognitive function and social interaction in individuals with dementia, and there is a growing body of research supporting their use.
One of the most significant benefits of board games for individuals with dementia is the mental stimulation they provide. Playing board games can help stimulate cognitive function and memory, which is particularly beneficial for those with dementia. Research has shown that playing board games can enhance cognitive function, attention, and executive function in individuals with dementia. This mental stimulation can help slow down cognitive decline and delay the onset of more severe symptoms.
In addition to the cognitive benefits, board games provide an opportunity for social interaction. Social isolation is a common issue for those with dementia, and playing games with family members, friends, or caregivers can provide a sense of connection and boost their overall well-being. Social interaction is important for maintaining cognitive function and overall well-being, and board games provide a structured and enjoyable way for individuals with dementia to engage with others.
Another significant benefit of board games for individuals with dementia is the sense of familiarity and comfort they can provide. Many board games have familiar rules and setups, which can help reduce feelings of confusion and anxiety that may be associated with more complex or unfamiliar activities. Familiarity and comfort can also help individuals with dementia feel more relaxed and at ease, which can be beneficial for their overall well-being.
Board games can also provide a sense of accomplishment for individuals with dementia. Completing a game or achieving a goal within a game can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem. This can be particularly important for individuals with dementia who may struggle with feeling confident or capable in their daily lives. A sense of accomplishment can also contribute to feelings of well-being and can help individuals with dementia maintain a positive outlook on life.
Finally, board games can be a form of reminiscence therapy for individuals with dementia. Many board games have themes or settings that are nostalgic or familiar to older individuals. Playing these games can provide an opportunity for individuals with dementia to reminisce and share memories, which can be a form of therapy and help them maintain a sense of identity and self. Reminiscing can also be a way for family members and caregivers to connect with the individual with dementia and to learn more about their past experiences and life history.
When selecting board games for individuals with dementia, it is important to choose games that are appropriate and engaging. Games with complex rules or strategies may be too difficult, and games with small pieces or complicated setup may cause frustration or confusion. It is best to choose games that are simple, easy to understand, and have clear instructions. Additionally, it is important to consider the individual’s needs and abilities, as well as their personal interests and preferences.
Some examples of games that may be appropriate for individuals with dementia include checkers, bingo, dominoes, and card games like Go Fish or Old Maid. These games have straightforward rules, are easy to set up, and can be played with just a few players. Additionally, these games provide opportunities for social interaction, mental stimulation, and a sense of accomplishment. Puzzles, word games, and other similar activities can also be helpful for individuals with dementia and can be incorporated into a regular routine of activities.
In addition to the benefits of board games themselves, the act of playing board games can provide a range of benefits for individuals with dementia. For example, playing games with others can provide opportunities for exercise, laughter, and joy, all of which can contribute to overall well-being. Furthermore, board games can be a way for family members
Recommended Board Games for Dementia & Alzheimer’s
- All About Us
- Past and Present Pairs
- Musical Bingo
- Fire Tower
- Card games (e.g. Go Fish, Old Maid, Uno)
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Trivial Pursuit
- Connect Four
- Chinese Checkers
Naturally, this is not an exhaustive list, and different games may be more appropriate for different individuals based on their personal interests and abilities. It is important to choose games that are appropriate and engaging, and to consider the individual’s needs and preferences.
- Kelly, K. R., Kiderlen, M. T., & LoGiudice, D. (2016). The benefits of board game playing for older adults. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70(3), 7003360010p1-7003360010p6. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2016.017210
- Lewis, M., & Pratt, R. (2017). The effectiveness of board games as a tool for improving the wellbeing of older adults with dementia. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 36(3), 431-455. doi: 10.1177/0733464815593646
- Lin, C., Lin, K., Chang, Y., & Huang, C. (2018). Using board games to enhance cognitive abilities and social interaction among older adults with dementia: A review. Geriatric Nursing, 39(5), 510-516. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2018.03.003