Active Aging Presented by Public Health Seattle-King County
January kicks off a new year. As you plan resolutions and think about all the possibilities that lie ahead, be sure to include enjoying some cozy winter fun with family and friends. Gathering around the table to play board games is a fantastic way to connect with loved ones.
In today’s digital world, board games give players a break from “screens.” Plus, A National Library of Medicine study shows that playing games lowers the risk for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. Overall, board games help older adults flex memory, reasoning, strategic thinking, and other mental muscles.
If you’re looking for game night ideas, this list of board games will challenge and entertain you indoors as the cold winds blow.
If you love doing crossword puzzles, then you’ll likely enjoy Hasbro’s classic word-building game Scrabble. To start, each player draws a random set of seven letter tiles. The object is to build intersecting words that score the highest number of points and empty your rack to win the game. The game exercises memory and visualization skills, helps build vocabulary, and utilizes strategy.
Yahtzee is an exciting dice game that leverages luck and math skills as players roll five dice three times and seek to create point combinations on individual scorecards. Combinations include:
• Full house (three-of-a-kind and a pair).
• Chance (adding the total of all five dice).
A “Yahtzee” is a 50-point, five-of-a-kind roll. For example, five “2s” are a Yahtzee. When all players complete every space on their scorecard, the player with the highest score wins.
According to chess.com, the game played around the world originated in earlier forms before the 600s AD as an Indian game called chaturanga. People played variations of chess across Asia and Europe for many centuries until the modern version we know arrived in the 16th century. The game eventually became so popular that World Chess Tournaments began in 1886 and they still crown World Chess Champions each year.
Chess is a two-player game moving pieces across a board to capture your opponent’s pieces. It involves focus, problem-solving, and memory skills. One study published in the National Institute of Health shows that playing chess enhances auditory memory and strengthens cognitive performance–including perception, memory, thinking, reasoning, and more. Another study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that playing chess lowers the risk of age-related dementia.
Ticket to Ride is an international, award-winning board game that adventurers and travel enthusiasts can enjoy. Older adults may remember visiting different destinations across North America via train as they play the game. Grandparents and grandchildren can have a lot of fun playing together. Grandkids might learn some fun facts about different cities their grandparents visited as they share real-life stories about places along railway routes during the game.
Ticket to Ride players use strategic thinking and memory skills to collect cards with different point values and build routes to travel from one city or state to another. There are multiple ways to connect routes, and the player with the highest score wins. Two to five people can play the game.
Rummikub puts an exciting, fast-paced, tiled spin on the classic “Rummy” card game and has been “bringing people together for over 70 years.” Players group tiles in “rummy” formations like “3, 4, 5” sequences, three and four-of-a-kind, etc., and place them down on the “board” on the table. All players build off existing combinations to use their tiles. The first player to use every tile on their rack wins.
Rummikub reinforces sequencing, memory, pattern sequencing, and basic math skills. The game is rated for ages eight and up, for two to four players.
MindWare created its award-winning mix-and-match tile game Qwirkle in 2006. Each player draws six random tiles out of a drawstring bag. You score points by creating rows or columns of colored shapes that all match in color or shape without containing a duplicate. After laying a sequence, draw more tiles from the bag to build your rack back up to six tiles.
The game ends when there are no more tiles to draw, and the first player empties their hand. The player with the highest score wins.
Qwirkle flexes older adults’ reasoning, focus, and strategic thinking skills and teaches young players about colors, shapes, building sequences, and more. It’s for two to four players, ages 6 and up.
Overall, playing board games is a wonderful way older adults can stretch their minds and enjoy social interaction. If it’s cold outside, gathering around the table with family and friends to play any of these games will give you hours of indoor enjoyment while you create some lasting memories.
Active Aging is presented by Public Health- Seattle & King County. Public Health- Seattle & King County recognizes the important and untold stories of innovation, service, and sacrifice by the Black community and supports efforts to improve equity and achieve social justice. We want everyone to get health insurance and access health care. Visit www.kingcounty.gov/health for health insurance, flu and COVID-19 testing locations.