Solitaire and Aging: Elderly Benefits


There’s nothing new about solitaire, and yet at the same time we are always learning new things about how the game affects our minds. It has often been said that there are many benefits to playing games as you get older, and this is certainly true of solitaire. Playing the game is hugely beneficial in many ways, so today we’re going to look at the benefits of playing solitaire as you get older.

Solitaire for the Elderly: the Benefits 

Playing solitaire will benefit your health in more ways than you might think. The most obvious and widely known benefits of playing are to your thinking and cognitive mind. While these are a huge part of the advantages of playing solitaire, the overall benefits go way beyond this. 

Stress Reduction

We all experience stress in our daily lives, and most of us do so at all stages of our lives. When we get older, though, for a variety of reasons this stress can get worse, and at the same time can have a more adverse effect on our overall health. 

One of the best, and often underappreciated, benefits of playing solitaire as you get older is that it is one of the simplest and quickest ways to reduce stress. Put down your phone, turn off your emails—unplug your landline, if you want to!—and lose yourself in a calming game of solitaire.

Solitaire is a calm, slow, meditative, game, and it’s so engrossing that you will quickly forget the stresses of your day-to-day life while playing. Even without all its other benefits, solitaire would be a great game for this reason alone.

Social Benefits 

Broadly speaking, some of the biggest problems faced by the elderly are mental health issues deriving from social isolation. Studies from the WHO have shown that as many as one in three people aged 65 and over feel lonely or socially isolated, whether chronically or from time to time.

Even though solitaire is a single player game, getting together with friends to play as a group is a fantastic way to socialize and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. It’s a great way to connect with new friends, too, as it can break down barriers and help you share tips and strategies with one another. There are even competitive forms of solitaire you can play with friends directly together, and this is another great way to connect with others and will do a great to dispel the feelings of loneliness that can come in old age. 

Cognitive Benefits 

When many think about how playing solitaire might benefit your mental health, cognitive benefits are one of the first things that will occur to them. It’s perfectly natural to feel concerned about the decline of your cognitive functions as you get older. Speed of processing and aspects of memory are two of the parts of your cognition which will decline most noticeably as you age.

Solitaire can be massively beneficial in slowing down this process of degradation. Strategic card games have been shown to sharpen your memory and processing speed, and it has been shown that regularly playing solitaire can even reduce the risk of dementia. Playing cards is not only fun, but it will help you improve your memory and cognition, too. As you get better at the game, you will notice improvements in your problem solving skills, perhaps even beyond what you had in youth. 

Physical Benefits 

If you are playing with a physical deck, too, the benefits of playing are not only mental but physical. Shuffling, moving, and handling cards can improve your dexterity and slow the rate at which your physical capabilities decline. While the effects are relatively minor, it is another added benefit to something you are otherwise doing for fun!

Tips for Playing Solitaire Effectively

So, knowing that there are many benefits to playing solitaire is one thing, but whether young or old we all want to win! Playing solitaire should be both a calming activity and something you do with an eye to actively improve your game. With that in mind, let’s look at our top tips for improving your strategy at solitaire and helping you win.

Learn the Games

It sounds simple, but one of the best things you can do to get better at solitaire is simply to play it a lot. There are many different kinds of solitaire and one of them is bound to appeal specifically to you. Whether you play one or switch between many forms, the more you play, the more you will learn the game. You’ll begin to see where you’ve gone wrong, and what steps you can take to avoid these mistakes in the future. The great thing about solitaire is that it is a game that is very easy to pick up, but equally difficult to master, which makes it engaging and interesting all the way through. At the same time, the constant, quick feedback loop of playing, losing, playing again and improving, day to day, is enormously rewarding. 

Play Strategically 

It’s also vital that you think of solitaire as a game of strategy as much as one of luck. Most forms of solitaire will have a large element of luck involved, but it won’t do you much good if you aren’t playing carefully even if the odds are in your favor. In most forms of solitaire, even a single wrong move can lock you out of winning. The odds for each type of solitaire can vary a lot, but the most popular form mathematically gives you only a 1 in 30 chance of winning.

Think carefully about each move you make, and try to think many steps ahead. As you play the game more and more, you’ll find this easier to do, and it’s one of the clearest ways that playing solitaire improves your cognitive functions. This applies to virtually all forms of solitaire, but Klondike, or classic solitaire, in particular.

Target Face-Down Cards

In Klondike solitaire, and many similar forms of the game, one of the most common reasons players get stuck is because they are too focused on the stockpile. In Klondike solitaire, you will have a lot of cards in the tableau that are face down. Revealing these cards as early as possible will give you a much better chance of winning.

Ignoring these cards for too long will eventually cause them to get stuck. Once they’re stuck, you’re not going to be able to win the deal without undoing your moves. 

Think Carefully about Colour 

In most forms of solitaire, color is a vital part of play, and this is certainly true of Klondike. Remember, though the goal is to get the cards into the foundations, most of the actual play happens in the tableaus. You need to make sure that you always have an idea of what your spread is going to look like a few moves ahead. For example, if you have an empty spot and a black king in another spot, then ideally you should fill that empty spot with a red king to give yourself the widest possible range of moves.

Sequencing is the most important part of the game, so ideally you shouldn’t even create an empty spot in the tableau unless you have the ideal king ready to go.

Build Sequences Evenly 

It can be very tempting, when playing solitaire, to just play any move that you see as soon as you see it. This is actively detrimental to your game and will not help you win. What this often results in is uneven sequences in the tableau, in which one tableau is built up with an entire sequence of ten cards while others are left much smaller. 

Building uneven sequences like this is bound to get you stuck and unable to proceed. Make sure to build up sequences as evenly as you can, as this will give you access to the widest possible range of moves. This, always, is the key—the more moves you have available, the more likely you are to win. 

Incorporating Solitaire into Your Daily Routine 

When it comes to routine, we are all different. However subtle or pronounced those differences might be, it can have a big impact on the way we live our day-to-day lives. As we get older, we tend to slip into a more rigid routine. This can be great for some, while others prefer a bit more flexibility. 

Whatever kind of person you are, we’ve got some great suggestions for incorporating solitaire into your daily routine.

1. Find the time that suits you best

We all get our energy at different times of the day. Many of us find ourselves becoming early birds more and more as we get older, though this is not universally true. If you are a morning person, though, then this could certainly be a great time to get a few games of solitaire in as you wait for the world to wake up. This would be better in a lot of ways than just putting the TV on or scrolling through the news on your phone. 

But if the morning doesn’t work for you, then try and notice when you have downtime during the day. If you look out for it, you will notice that there is usually a time of the day when you find yourself at a loose end. This often comes late in the afternoon, so this would be a great time for you to get a game or two in. 

On the other hand, the evening is a great time to play solitaire no matter what your routine is. Slow, contemplative games like this are a great way to wind down in the evening. You might play a couple of games when you wake up and before you go to bed.

2. Play, don’t think 

Routines are perfectly easy and natural for some; for others, they can be much more difficult. There’s a great deal of benefit to having a routine, especially as we get older, and simply put, one of the biggest things that gets in the way of sticking to our routines is overthinking things. Say you decide you’re going to play a game of solitaire every day during some quiet time after lunch. It may be that you don’t feel up to playing a game when the time comes.

But you’ll almost certainly feel better if you stick to the routine you’ve decided on, so don’t think about it—just do it. If there’s something else you want to do, you can do it after you finish—games don’t take long. The more you do it, the less you’ll think about it—it will just become a habit.

3. Try different games 

No matter what we do, we are always going to end up feeling slightly different from one day to the next. One of the great things about incorporating solitaire into your daily routine is that there are so many different forms of it that all play very differently. Following on from the last point, it may be that there are days when you simply don’t feel like focusing on a long, slow, meditative game of Klondike. 

Instead, you could try a faster-paced game like Three Gates solitaire, or a calmer form of the game like Clock Solitaire. These won’t require the same amount of strategic thinking, but they still come with many of the benefits of solitaire. You can still incorporate solitaire into your daily routine on days that you are not feeling up to the more demanding games. 

Wrapping Up

It’s hard to deny the value that solitaire can have as we start to get older, then. Even forgetting all the myriad benefits that playing the game can have on your physical and mental health, these simple games are easy for anyone to learn, and playing a game is a great way to break up the hours of the day. You can use the game as a way to socialize with new and old friends, all the while improving your cognition, your dexterity, and your memory.

As we journey through life, solitaire continues to be a steadfast companion, offering a diverse range of experiences that support cognitive health and mental well-being. Whether you’re enjoying a solo session or connecting with friends through multiplayer variants, solitaire remains a versatile and enjoyable way to keep your mind sharp and foster social interactions as the years go by.

Explore More Solitaire Games

Looking for more solitaire challenges? Try your hand at different variations:

Spider Solitaire One Suit

Classic Solitaire