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Topic: Activities for people with dementia (and other disabilities related to aging)???  (Read 4514 times)
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« on: April 18, 2011 12:49:11 AM »

Hello Ladies and gents,

I wasn't sure where to put this, but this seemed the most likely spot, although it's a little in reverse to what's usually in here.

I'm looking for some ideas for some activities for elderly people in general, and also specifically for my Oma (grandmother).

When she was younger, my Oma was very active and useful. she enjoyed sewing clothes, knitting, crochet, cooking and gardening... and she was phenomenally good at it, i rarely saw her use a recipe, and i'm pretty sure she didn't actually know how to read sewing or knitting patterns... she was just so clever and creative and made the most beautiful things for all of her family.

Now, however, she's 93 years old, she's wheelchair bound, has arthritis in her hands, and suffers mild dementia. She's well cared for in a lovely nursing home, and is a favourite with all her nurses, but she often complains of being bored and feeling useless. She's never been an overly social person, so the group activites in the home don't really interest her much, and alot of the other residents are not capable of conversation anyway.

So, i'm looking for ideas for simple crafts and activites that she can do on her own at her little table in her room.

I've found some nice colouring pages of things that might remind her of her youth (as i've read that reminiscing is helpful in the relief of dementia symptoms), such as flowers, farm animals, and religious icons, and i'll get her some nice big coloured pencils that she should be able to hold on to.

Any other ideas would be much appreciated.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2011 02:07:47 AM by FoxInDocs » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2011 08:36:06 PM »

Hmmm, something with bigger pieces that would be easy for her to pick up?

« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2011 01:17:36 PM »

this isn't craft related but there is a magazine which she may enjoy called reminisce. I enjoy the magazine along with my grandmothers. http://www.reminisce.com/

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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2011 03:27:48 PM »

Maybe those jigsaw puzzles with the large pieces?

« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011 07:07:34 AM »

Maybe collage? Could you get a piece of poster board, cover it with adhesives, and then she could decorate it with various punched shapes (punched out by you, since her arthritic hands might not be able to do that) and other cutout pictures?

Same thing with felt pieces -- she could use pre-cut pieces to decorate a plain bag (just gluing them on).

« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2011 02:50:29 PM »

I agree cutting would be really hard but if you cut out a bunch of pictures for her to use in various ways it shouldn't be too hard to wield a glue stick.

You could give her poster board like others have said, or you can give her card stock folded to make cards or something. You could give her stamps for this too. You can never go wrong with stamps and I've seen them popping up in big lots on craigslist and yardsales and stuff. Seems like a lot of scrapbookers are destashing lately. You could also give her those 12X12 pages to decorate and add them to a scrap book. If reminiscing is good you could copy old photos for her to use as well.

You could also try finger/hand painting. It would be messy but that way she wouldn't have to worry about gripping a brush or anything. Or if the arthritis isn't too bad you could fashion her a brush or sponge brush that would be easy for her to use.

Also, what about making beaded necklaces? If you fashioned the string/wire in a way that the beads couldn't fall off the bottom she could figure out how to arrange and bead the necklace. Then when she's done, you or someone else could help with putting on the clasps or just tying the ends together.

There are also a lot of craft books out there that are geared towards young children that I think you could twist to work for you. The craft books for younger kids take into account little kid's lack of control of their fine motor skills so you could get a lot of ideas from them.

If she liked to sew you could make it easier for her by making pre-cut, pre punched kits to be assembled. Felt should be easy to work with because it doesn't really need to be hemmed or anything. You could make little bags and things for her and punch out holes where she should sew. This way she doesn't have to worry about having to force the needle through fabric, but can still create something really fun and decorate it however she wants. Below is a link where they use foam so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.
You can obviously make it more complicated than this, but I wanted you to see what I meant!

Good on you looking out for your loved ones. It sounds like you love and care for her very much. I hope these ideas can be of some use for you. 


Běifāng yǒu jiārn, jush r dl. Y g qīng rn chng, zi g qīng rn gu. Nng b zhī qīng chng yǔ qīng gu. Jiārn nn zi d.
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2011 01:45:28 PM »

I am a Life Enrichment Manager for individuals with dementia/Alzheimer's Disease in Louisville, KY.  Order an Alzheimer's Resource Kit for your grandmother from http://www.sehealth.org/foundation/SoutheastHEALTH.aspx?nd=400 .  They are free due to donations and grants and come with Twiddles, which are amazing for keeping cold and hardworking hands busy and warm.

I made stationery on Tuesday with a resident using 1/2 cup of water, a teaspoon of sugar, dish soap, and food coloring.  You blow bubbles with a straw in a bowl of these ingredients and have her place the paper/envelope in the bubbles.  She can give these to loved ones as a gift and they can, in turn, write her letters, helping her feel less isolated.

She's a lucky lady to have a granddaughter trying to help her hands keep busy and happy.
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2011 01:56:58 PM »

I think decoupage is always a lovely way to decorate that does not take a great deal of skill, as long as there is someone who can cut nearby to help.  You could even make it personal by making copies of photos of your Oma's family and friends and special places or images of things that she enjoy(ed) doing in her life.  You could decorate a canvas or find other items to decorate, such as frames or boxes, that she could give away or keep in her room to help stimulate memories.  One time I had an art class I taught decorate the frame of a mirror, encouraging them to find images that reflect how they saw themselves, how others see them, or how they believe God sees them.  To finish, you can add small found objects, glitter, beads, or other items that would give it some dimension and might be fun for your grandmother to manipulate.
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2011 09:21:28 AM »

One of my friends has a mother with really bad arthritis.  She also used to love doing all the things your grandmother did!  She finds though, that she can still knit some using one of the knitting looms.

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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2011 04:04:59 PM »

How about scrapbooking? It might be a nice way for her to record memories and you could incorporate her interests with themed sticker sets and stamps.


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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2011 05:49:10 PM »

I noticed this was posted back in April, it's now Nov. 30th, but hopefully you are still checking in. First, I wanted to say that I was blessed with an 'Oma' too  Wink You are very thoughtful and kind to be thinking of creative outlets that she would enjoy. She's lucky to have you.
Have you thought about 'finger knitting'? Full Disclosure: I just heard of this and don't know anything about it other than it was suggested as an activity for myself (I have an illness/disability that confines me much like your Oma) and my 6 year old son that we could do together snuggled in bed Wink This friend is a crafty person, and knows of my limited mobility, cognitive difficulties (e.g. hard to follow patterns now ;( ), and lack of fine motor skills. She also knows how I treasure my time with my son-shine, and thought it might be a fun project. Other than that, I have not yet researched the how-to's on 'finger knitting', but I'm hopeful it will be something that we can both do together with minimal frustration. Best wishes to you and your Oma!

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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2012 07:24:06 PM »

I worked with a age care home back in Australia by running craft groups. The women really enjoyed making cards for Christmas, Easter and anything else. I would supply the cards, stickers, stamps and precut pictures for them to glue on. They enjoyed making the cards a lot, but i think they got the real kick from sending them to their families.
There was one woman in particular who became very upset because she had no house work to do (her room was cleaned for her daily and all washing was also done for her) and before she came to the home was a real worker and would do everything for herself. To help her feel a sense of worth, we let her fold hand towels and polish the door nobs in the recreation room. After that she would always appear much happier which is always good  Smiley
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2012 11:05:24 PM »

two things are very important here- 1) your grandmother needs to feel like she is making good use of her time. and 2) your grandmother needs activities to keep her mind 'limber'.
There are a ton of books out there, for working with kids, and developmentally disabled adults. Please understand, I am not saying your grandmother is either BUT these are usually crafts that can be done with 'clumsy fingers' and don't take too long to complete. I really like the ideas of making greeting cards and/or a scrapbook. Coloring pages are good too. Anything to keep her mind active. I had a Gerontology professor who taught his dad (who had dementia) to play the guitar. As he put it "My pop was never gonna be Jimi Hendrix, but he did learn Mary Had A Little Lamb and Frere Jacques. Most of all, he had fun."

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