Board games are a great way to spend time with your senior parents. The best board games allow you to enjoy quality time and strengthen bonds with those who mean the most to you! We’re big believers in board games being a great way to connect to other people, and that includes the people who raised us.
Growing older can be challenging, and as seniors age, they may feel like their life is passing them by. But you can help them feel differently by spending some time with them and teaching them a few games they can play with you or on their own.
In our family, board games were actually introduced to us by our parents. Maybe some of their favorites can also be board games that your senior parents will also love!
Why are Board Games Good for Seniors?
It might take older adults a little more effort before they “get” a game, but activities like board games are actually good for them.
We all know staying physically and emotionally well is important, but staying mentally sharp is just as necessary. Especially if your parents are retired like ours are. They should still have something to challenge and stretch their mind. It will help prevent forgetfulness and memory loss.
Plus, board games also help with social interaction. The best board games foster conversations and strengthen relationships among players. For older adults, it can help relieve feelings of loneliness which they can sometimes feel as they grow older.
Tips for Playing Board Games With Your Parents
We’ll be honest with you: it can be challenging to get some people into board games, especially if they’ve never really been into it before. We’ve heard all sorts of reasons:
- Games are for kids.
- It’s a waste of time.
- Those games are too complicated for me, or, I’m too old to understand.
- Do I get anything out of playing that game?
(And these aren’t just from older adults, either!)
Here’s a tip: try to catch them while in a good mood and when they’re not doing anything too engrossing or important. Tell them you just want to spend time with them! If they assume you’re after something (since you’re making lambing), crack a joke and launch into a sales pitch for the game you want to play with them. It never hurts to try!
Also, if your parents are new to board games, please don’t pick a game like Scythe 😅 save that for the future! Ideally, the games you start with should be short and sweet! A game with a playing time of about 20 minutes is a great opener. It will help your elderly parent stay focused on what they’re doing instead of losing interest after too long.
A game with simpler mechanics will also be easier to teach. This is for both of you! You could feel frustrated after repeating a rule to them for the tenth time. But they also feel frustration and embarrassment if they can’t seem to grasp something that’s “simple” to you.
Our Favorite Board Games to Play with Our Parents
Before anything else: this is a very subjective list. It’s in no way a complete, exhaustive list of the best board games for seniors! But these are games we’ve played with our parents to great effect, or ones that they enjoy playing on their own, too.
These are roughly ordered from easier to more complicated, but YMMV!
It’s hard to get simpler than a competitive Tetris game like Gemblo. Everyone picks a color and receives a few Tetris-style pieces. The goal of the game is to fit all the pieces of your own color onto the board. The one with the least leftovers wins the game! But just like Tetris, it can get quite hairy soon enough!
This is such a treat to play! Coloretto is a simple game with a light footprint. The game is easy to explain and fast-paced–once you understand it, you can play another round easily. It’s a great introduction into the set collection mechanic, as well!
Tsuro can be your parents’ gateway game. It’s a beautiful and simple game that can go by very quickly. This tile-laying game is on of the best board games for seniors since it’s easy to teach and works for almost any number of players: perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Puzzle lovers will love this game of connecting lines, and while it can start out slow, things can get a little tense when the board gets more crowded.
This is one of our favorite small, lightweight games to have around. Mint Works is simple and straightforward, and a great introduction to the worker placement game mechanic. And who doesn’t love mints? In this game, players use mint tokens to build up their factory with plans and get the most points.
If your parents love Candy Crush, Bejeweled, and other matching games on their phone–they’re going to love Potion Explosion. It’s super easy to teach, and the feel of the marbles and the gameplay is so satisfying. It’s always an instant win for many newbies to board games.
Love Letter is one of the most popular sixteen-card games available. There are so many different flavors that it’s easy to pick one that speaks to your fandom (and hopefully your parents’ interests, too!). It’s a great bluffing and deduction game for everyone. But do note that there can be a bit of a curve for new players because of the cards and abilities they need to keep track of. Larger families would need a different edition like Love Letter Premium.
Everybody loves Splendor. The feel of those chips in your hand is pretty iconic ;) but thankfully, it’s a simple enough game that is easy to teach to new players. Players are merchants who compete to amass the most prestige points through buying gems, mines, and other things on the board.
You might want to introduce them to Hive, a beautiful two-player game. It’s one of the best board games for seniors who are into chess! There’s pretty much no setup, and the goal is to surround the other player’s queen. It’s addictive and engrossing and a great refresh of a classic game.
Another great refresh of a classic game, Hardback is like a souped-up Scrabble game mixed with a deck-builder. You create words from the letters in your hand, and buy more useful letters to fill your deck and make better words in the future. It can get fairly strategic and complicated, but it’s easy to start them off with a simpler mode before unleashing the full game.
Admittedly, Folded Wishes is one of the more complicated games on this list. But this is a real treat to play with–perhaps after going through some of the simpler games above! It’s a beautiful pattern building and tile-laying game based on beautiful origami that our parents enjoyed in one afternoon at a coffee shop! Plus, it’s home-grown: made by our very own Ronald Villaver!
And we’ve got one more special mention for our list of best board games for seniors:
Everyone’s into redecorating their homes these days, that this just has to be in this list. Are you or your parents into the Home Buddies craze too? Azul should definitely be in your list. The tile components are pretty, feel great in your hand, and the gameplay is simple (but can be quite tense and competitive!).
And of course, you might want to also check out our five top gateway games for more ideas, too!
Board Games are For All Ages
There are some great games out there that your parents may fall in love with. It only takes a little time, effort, and creativity to find the perfect game for their interests.
The most important thing is that you make sure they enjoy themselves and have a great time!