A wide number of studies show that games that promote critical thinking skills can improve the brain’s cognitive functions, and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia in the future. This article will discuss some of the most popular brain games that are shown to help reduce the risk of developing dementia in elderly age. Seniors that take the time to learn and enjoy these games can benefit from stronger brain plasticity that is important to stave off degeneration.

Single-Player Games

The games below are meant for 1 person, but many can be done with a friend or family member. These games are great to play alone and pass the time while improving your brain health.

Crossword Puzzles

Many senior citizens will know this classic game from their local newspapers. Today, there are plenty of crossword puzzle books and apps out there. Crossword puzzle books come in a variety of difficulty levels and topics, so you can find one that fits your interests and skill level.


A popular numbers-in-boxes game hailing from japan, Sudoku challenges the player to place the right number in each box based on the appropriate fields. Much like crosswords, there are a large variety of apps and books to play Sudoku. Many of them vary in difficulty, so your loved one can keep improving.


Solitare is a popular single-player game using a deck of cards. After setting up the board, the player must move cards on the board or through the deck in order to sequence the deck from aces to kings in each suit. It is also a good way to see if you are missing any cards from the deck.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles challenge you to use critical thinking to find out where each piece goes, and how they fit together. There are millions of jigsaw puzzles on the market, with images of all interests. Jigsaw puzzles can also make great art pieces with a bit of puzzle glue and a frame. As they are good for developing these skills in kids too, jigsaw puzzles are a great bonding activity for children and grandparents.

Games with Others

The games listed here are good for improving thinking skills with others. These games can be fun to play with family members and friends alike.


Chess is among one of the oldest games still being played today, originating in 6th century India. While it’s current iteration was developed sometime in the 1500s, it still remains as one of the most popular and challenging board games to date. Chess helps build both critical thinking skills and spatial awareness, as the many pieces clash across the board. Players need to know how the different pieces move across the board in order to achieve victory. There are plenty of apps and online versions of chess that will let you play with a computer opponent, or against users around the world.

Card Games

There are many variations of how to play with a deck of cards, but many of them can improve critical thinking skills while playing with others. Poker, Rummy, Bridge, and Sevens are all games that can improve your brain strength while playing with others. Card games like these can be a great way to enjoy time with friends or teach your grandchildren something new.


Similar to a crossword puzzle, Scrabble challenges you to find words out of the letters in front of you, and connect them with the words laid out on the board.


Mahjong is a game that hails from China. It is played with four players using special tiles, although there are versions of playing cards that simulate the tiles. It is similar to more western card games such as Rummy.

Safe Harbor Healthcare Services does not provide medical or healthcare advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
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