Brain Games for Seniors: A Fun Way to Stay Sharp and Alert

Amazingly enough, there are activities and games that exercise your brain and help to keep it fit. These games can improve memory and cognition, sharpening critical thinking skills that many of us do not use as much in retirement as we did when we were working full time. Here are a few of those games that you may want to play.


Chess is an excellent game for critical thinking. To play well, you need to consider all the possible moves you and your partner could make and their ramifications. Another related critical thinking game is Go, an Asian game that can be played in person or online.

Card Games

Hundreds of card games are available. There are ones you can play alone (Solitaire), two-handed (Gin), four-handed (Bridge and Canasta), and other card games. Being a good card player requires knowing what cards you hold in your hand, what might be held in the hands of the other players, and what you think might be left in the deck.


Sudoku is a logic numbers game where some numbers are provided and you have to fill in the missing ones. The game is composed of a 9×9 grid and each of those contains a 3x3 sub-grid. The object of the game is to make sure each of the grids contains all of the digits from 1 to 9.

Sudoku can be found for free online and in many daily newspapers. There are many levels of difficulty.

Word Games

Aside from crossword puzzles, there are other word games such as Spelling Bee that are published daily in The New York Times (you can play for free.) This is a game where you make as many words as you can from a given list of letters. There are also games you can play with others such as Scrabble.


Crosswords are easy to find in newspapers or puzzle books. There are all levels to choose from. Doing crosswords is a learned skill. The more you do them, the easier they are.

Exactly how much these games help the brain is currently being researched. However, games are fun to play, and there is no downside to playing them. One of the key benefits is novelty. If you get bored with one game, then by all means switch to something new and stimulating or move to a harder level. The idea here is to exercise your brain in new ways all the time.