Board Games for Senior Citizens: Interview with Susan Berg

Susan Berg discusses games for the elderly.

Many senior citizens love playing board games. While some games may be too confusing for older people, there are numerous games that can provide hours of stimulation and fun. Susan Berg is a long time activities director, author and dementia expert. She has written a book, maintains several blogs, and writes for Activity Director Today and Demand Studios. She discusses the importance of playing games with the elderly and gives tips and advice for choosing games that older citizens will enjoy playing.

Please tell us about yourself.

I have been a healthcare professional and educator for over 20 years. I am the activity director of many years at Hunt Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Danvers. While there, I have gained much dementia care and activity experience and knowledge. I have had special training in dementia care and dementia activities through the Alzheimer's Association and other educational forums. I am the author of Adorable Photographs of Our Baby-Meaningful, Mind-Stimulating Activities and More for the Memory Challenged, Their Loved Ones, and Involved Professionals, a book for those with dementia and an excellent resource for caregivers and healthcare professionals.

What are some simple board games that the elderly might enjoy?

The elderly might enjoy Checkers, Sorry, Parcheesi. The State Capital Game looks like something they may enjoy Chutes and Ladders, Scrabble, and trivia games. There are probably more.

Why is it important that the elderly play board games?

It is important for the elderly to play board games because these games keep their minds active and they foster socialization with their piers, friends, and family.

Are there any games that should probably be avoided?

Each person is different. If a game is too frustrating for an individual, it should be avoided. I like to work with people's strengths and interests. For example, if a person is visually impaired, you would not want to play a game where he would have to read small print or use small pieces unless, of course, you can give him the assistance he needs. You want him to enjoy and feel good about himself while playing the game.

How can family members and friends help older people with the frustration of playing a new game?

  • Give them plenty of instruction.
  • Break the directions down into small simple steps.
  • Have them be your partner when you play the game.
  • Play the game in short segments at first.
  • Try to compensate for any deficits they may have.

Do you have any other tips and advice you'd like to add?

I like the KISS theory, that is "keep it simple sweetheart." Remember the object is to have fun. Remember it is not who wins that matters. In fact put very little emphasis on winning. Any game can be adapted and modified to meet the particular needs of a player. You want the elder to have success while playing.

Where can we read more about you and about this topic?

You can visit my website Alzheimer's Ideas. I also have several blogs at Activities Director. I discuss activities for the elderly particularly those with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and others living at a long term care facility. My other blog is Dementia Views.

As I mentioned before, I have written a book called Adorable Photographs of Our Baby-Meaningful, Mind-Stimulating Activities and More for the Memory Challenged, Their Loved Ones, and Involved Professionals, a book for those with dementia and an excellent resource for caregivers and healthcare professionals. You can purchase it at Amazon.com. People can also buy the book at any of my blogs or at my website.

Board Games for Senior Citizens: Interview with Susan Berg