5 Simple Games to Help Stimulate the Memory of a Person with Dementia

Games to Stimulate the Memory. Play games to help your brain keep fit and healthy

Games to Stimulate the Memory

We have 5 simple games you can play to help stimulate the memory of a person with dementia.

These are games you can play at home, day centre’s or care home.

Playing games and puzzles like the ones below are an easy way to help aid communication & help stimulate the memory of a person with dementia without being to physical. They can also provide enjoyment, laughter and harmony within a group of people living with dementia.

5 Easy-to-Play Games to Stimulate the Memory

Here we take a look at 5 simple ways that you can use games to help your brain using puzzles to stimulate the mind of a person with diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

These are very simple games and quizzes using everyday objects and words that can be used on a one-to-one basis or in a group of people. They can also be adapted to suit people of all stages of dementia.

Animal Audio Bingo: Specialist Alzheimer’s / Dementia Games and Resources by Active Minds
  • AWARD WINNING - Active Minds won outstanding dementia product at the 2015 National Dementia Care Awards
  • SPECIALIST DESIGN - activities, games and age appropriate toys developed specifically for elderly people living with dementia and Alzheimer's
  • AUDIO BINGO - authentic sounds and images are much easier to recognise and match than numbers for someone with dementia, allowing people who can no longer play traditional bingo to continue playing a game they love
  • MULTI PLAYER - this game can be played in groups of up to 8 people, bringing people of all ages and abilities together
  • DURABLE MATERIALS - thick matt laminated card and wooden counters are tough, easily cleaned and infection control compliant

Memory Tray

This is a great way to play games to stimulate the memory. It’s also a great way to involve a group of people. Instead of a tray you could use a simple box, there are no rules to what you use. Using a tray is similar to using a memory box but is easier to see inside a tray. They can be used for groups or used on a 1-2-1 person basis.

The idea of the memory tray game is this:

Get a tray (or shallow box) and place in the tray everyday objects such as pens, books, gloves, letters. It can be anything really but try to keep the items simple and not personalised to any individual, especially if playing in a group.

Allow each person or the individual time to look in the tray. May be 30 seconds or so. Pass the tray around the group with each person allowed to view the items for the same amount of time. Once everybody has viewed the items, take away the tray and ask for members of the group to call out items they remember seeing in the tray.

You can do this by going around the group one at a time (preferred method) or asking for somebody to shout out an answer. I prefer the individual approach which goes around the group one at once allowing each person time to remember an item.

It’s important that if any item is repeated it doesn’t matter. You want to encourage the person to speak up and remember an item in their own way. You can adapt the game by showing the group the items collectively rather than allowing them to view the items  individually.

Letter Quiz

The letter quiz is best played on a pre-prepared question sheet (although it can be played verbally) that allows answers to be written on the paper alongside or under the question. This gives the person with dementia time to read the question and answer in their own time. You can encourage the individuals by giving clues or help with a 1-2-1 help.

The idea is that you choose a list of questions all beginning with the same letter. An example would be:

All these begin with the letter D.

  1. A country
  2. A boy’s name
  3. A food
  4. An animal

Keep the question as simple and as general as possible by using easy letters. I would not recommend using the letter Z V  X Y or J. You can do any number of questions depending how long you want to run the quiz for.

You will soon be able to tailor the letter quiz according to the capabilities of the dementia group or individual once you have tried it a few times.

The idea is not to find out who is best at the quiz but to try to get every individual able to give an answer to the question.  This helps the person remember items, things, places etc.

Jigsaw Puzzles

jigsaw’s are a great games to stimulate the memory. A lot of people tend to turn their nose up at a jig-saw, especially nowadays with computer games and interactive puzzles. But doing a jigsaw puzzle can be extremely rewarding for a person with memory problems. A jigsaw come in varying number of pieces, so are perfectly adapted to people of all stages of dementia.

You could use a simple 10 piece jigsaw up to a 200 piece jigsaw. It all depends on the ability of the person but the satisfaction a person can get from completing a jigsaw is amazing.

I really would recommend allowing a person with dementia to try doing a jigsaw. It is one of the best games to help your brain stay active. Why not try a simple jigsaw to start with then move up to a jig-saw with more pieces. Allow the person time to do the jigsaw and save in a safe place if the person doesn’t finish the jigsaw at the first attempt.

Active Minds City Dusk 63 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle: Specialist Alzheimer’s / Dementia Activities and Games
  • AWARD WINNING - Active Minds won outstanding dementia care product at the 2015 National Dementia Care Awards
  • SPECIALIST DESIGN - activities, games and age appropriate toys developed specifically for elderly people living with dementia and Alzheimer's
  • DURABLE MATERIALS - plastic pieces are tough, easily cleaned and infection control compliant
  • GUIDE ASSISTANCE - box frame helps to assemble the pieces and prompt questions help start conversations
  • REMINISCENT IMAGE - strong reminiscence images are suitable for people with visual impairment and help stimulate memories and conversation once the puzzle is completed


A simple game where you ask a person to draw something they see or something you are describing. The game can also be played by using a chalk/wipe board. You draw the item and you encourage the person to shout out as soon as they recognise the thing you are drawing. You can also ask individuals to draw something if they feel able to do draw themselves.

Drawing games are ideally suited to people with early stages of dementia and not for people with a more advanced stage of dementia.

Music Games to Stimulate the Memory

Music is one of the best ways of encouraging interaction in a group of people who suffer from dementia. It can be used for people with early stage dementia and less able persons in the advanced stage. People in general love to sing.

There are many ways to use music for stimulating a person’s mind. Just a good old sing along to their favorite tunes or a simple “name that tune” theme is one easy way to use music to stimulate the minds of dementia sufferers.

Other ways could be a music quiz or even dancing statues. Simply asking the people in the group to freeze when the music stops. Or even encouraging them to pretend to play the instrument they can hear.

Some of the benefits of playing games

Using quizzes, puzzles and activity based games to stimulate the memory & stay active is important with people who suffer from dementia because –

  • It allows you as the carer to gain a better understanding of how well the person can remember things. This then allows you to adopt games and puzzles to match their ability.
  • It stimulates the persons cognitive memory, giving them satisfaction, achievement and enjoyment.

If you have any other great ways you could use fun activities and games to help your brain then please let us know your thoughts below.

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  • Robin Edge

    My wife used to play piano about 25-30 years ago. She wast a very good pianist and played classical music in front of a lot of people . She is quite shy and her self esteem is not what it used to be!
    She has been diagnosed with minor cognitive impairment. Do you think if I got a piano she would be able to play it ? And would it be a good brain stimulant?

    • john

      Hello Robin,
      I think it would be a great idea. I know that music is a great way to stimulate the minds of people with dementia and memory problems in lots of ways. Its still not fully understood why a person can forget many things but somehow they are able to remember the words to a song.
      I have included a couple of articles on how people are using music to enhance the lives of people with memory problems below.
      Good luck to you and your wife.
      Musical activities for older people
      Singing is easier than remembering things

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