Brain Exercise for Seniors: Finish the Phrase Activity

Brain Exercise-Finish the Phrase

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.

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.

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.

More activities from for members

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.

Note:  We will continue to add to this activity so return here periodically to get new phrases and content to use in your community.

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…

Famous Proverbs:

A watched pot never _____________ (boils)

Actions speak louder than _____________(words)

One man’s trash is another man’s_____________ (treasure)

Better late than _____________ (never)

No news is _____________ good news)

Don’t cry over_____________ (spilt milk)

Laughter is the best _____________(medicine)

The early bird _____________ (gets the worm)

Birds of a feather_____________ (flock together)

Hindsight is always_____________ (twenty-twenty)

Do as I say Do as I say_____________ (not as I do)

It’s the squeaky wheel________________(that gets the grease)

You can lead a horse to water, __________(but you can’t make him drink)

When in Rome, _______________(do as the Romans do)

When the going gets tough, ______________ (the tough get going)

A bird in the hand is worth_______________(two in the bush)

An apple a day _____________(keeps the doctor away)

A place for everything_____________(and everything in its place)

A friend in need ____________________ (is a friend indeed)

Famous Duos

Romeo and _____________ (Juliet)

Tarzan and _____________ (Jane)

Jack and _____________ (Jill)

Hansel and _____________ (Gretel)

Beauty and The _____________ (Beast)

Dr. Jekyll and _____________ (Mr. Hyde)

Superman and _____________ (Lois Lane)

Bonnie and _____________ (Clyde)

Adam and _____________ (Eve)

Abbott and _____________ (Costello)

Gilbert and _____________ (Sullivan)

Laverne and _____________ (Shirley)

Thelma and _____________ (Louise)

Roy Rogers and _____________ (Trigger/ Gabby Hayes)

Butch Cassidy and_____________ (The Sundance Kid)

Tom Sawyer and ________________ (Huckleberry Finn)


Peanut Butter and _____________ (Jelly)

Macaroni and _____________ (Cheese)

Spaghetti and _____________ (Meatballs)

Corned Beef and _____________ (Cabbage)

Bacon and _____________ (Eggs)

Biscuits and _____________ (Gravy/Jam)

Mashed potatoes and _____________(Gravy)

Cookies and _____________(Cream/Milk)

Pork and _____________ (Beans)

Ketchup and _____________ (Mustard)

Salt and _____________(Pepper)

Cinnamon and _____________ (Sugar)

Milk and _____________ (Cereal/ Cookies)

Hamburgers and _____________ (French Fries/Hot Dogs)

Bread and _____________ (Butter)

Coffee and ______________ (Tea/Cream)

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