Brain Exercise for Seniors: Finish the Phrase Activity

Brain Exercise Activities

This brain exercise makes for a fun game and enjoyable activity. Brain exercise is good not only for improving memory but also for maintaining and calling on stored memories that can be recalled about a life well lived.  We suggest putting brain exercise on the calendar at least once a week.  You may not call it “brain exercise” and no one will feel like they are being tested because it is so much fun.

Keep Everyone Engaged

As with any activity be cognizant of those in the activity that may not be participating because of their quiet nature or their inability to recall.  Find a way to have them involved so that they can get some of the satisfaction of being recognized in the group.

Who Can Participate?

This brain exercise is appropriate for all seniors, and especially beneficial to those with dementia because it calls on long term memory which can be intact as dementia advances. These are familiar phrases and pairs that most people have heard many times since early childhood. This helps to challenge the brain and can stimulate memories.

Because these words are tied to long-term memory, many people can easily recall them, even those with significant memory loss. These phrases will spark discussion so encourage participants to reminiscence and take your residents for a walk down memory lane. Every phrase is a great opportunity to have a discussion and engage your residents.

Brain Exercise: Finish the Phrase

Appropriate for:

All audiences but be sure to include some help for those who are struggling such that they have a moment or two of participation.

Supplies needed:

None.  If you are not familiar with some of these phrases since many of them originated long ago read about them and prepare.

Activity Directions 

Read each phrase out loud and have the residents call out the missing word or phrase.

Discussion Questions/ starters

  • What does this proverb mean?
  • Have you heard this saying before?
  • Have you ever said this?
  • What do you think this proverb means?
  • Do you agree/disagree?
  • Did you watch this television show?
  • Can you think of more famous duos?
  • Do you enjoy this type of food?
  • What other food pairs do you enjoy?
  • How do you like your coffee?
  • Raise your hand if you’ve watched this movie…


Here are some downloads to use to prepare your own game. Since we have almost 100 phrases, you may choose to use the Excel files and trim them down to fit the attention span of your audience. We made the sheets without answers in larger letters for those with low vision but they could be made larger if needed.

Finish the Phrase Answers (PDF)

Finish the Phrase without Answers (PDF)

Finish the Phrase Answers (Excel)

Finish the Phrase without Answers (Excel)

Other Activities from