As we enter the winter holiday season, it’s the perfect time to think about fun and games. Specifically, about games and activities, you can play as a family, including your elder loved ones.
Lego – The evergreen classic. There is nothing like spilling a whole mess of Lego pieces onto the dining room table and letting everyone contribute to one massive build. You can stick to the “directions” or just let everyone’s imagination go wild. Seniors with arthritis or other dexterity issues may need some assistance, but in most cases, they’ll still love being brought into the group.
Board Games – While the old classics like Monopoly and Chutes & Ladders are still out there; the last 20 years have seen an explosion of new and innovative sorts of board games. These games have a wide range of complexity, so in general, you want to steer towards the ones labeled “easy” or “moderate” and with shorter game times (<30 minutes are best). You can pair up seniors with children as teams, or just find a cooperative game – like Forbidden Island or Pandemic – and let everyone work together. As game nights grow more common, you can introduce more games, and more complex games, based on the reaction of the group.
You Don’t Know Jack – This hit video game is available on just about any device or platform available today, and can be played on just about any TV you have. Each installment of the game includes a selection of different party & trivia games for groups to enjoy. Best of all, every player can use their own smartphone or tablet as their personal controller. The games are mostly riffs on classic party games like Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit & Charades, so they’re generally easy to learn. By giving your senior loved ones their own controller (this is an excellent use for old smartphones which may be lying around the home. They don’t need active cell service for this, just wi-fi access) you allow the entire family to play together and strengthen their bonds in the process.
Cookie decorating – While it may not be great for our waistlines, there’s an undeniable joy that comes from adding colorful decorations to sweet treats. It’s a messy – but quite safe – sort of fun that can bring the oldest and youngest members of the family together. While some members of the family prepare doughs & bake off the results, you can sit the group at a table with cookie cutters, colored icings, sprinkles & any sort of edible decorations you can get your hands on. And the finished products can make a wonderful gift for friends of your elder loved ones.
Whichever activities you choose, try to be considerate of the needs of the seniors you’re trying to engage. Think about whatever impairments or disabilities they have and select activities that work around those issues. Don’t force every game or activity to be uber-competitive or judged. Seniors don’t want to be condescended to, but they also don’t want to feel like they are being taken advantage of, either.