10 Crafts to Encourage and Motivate Creativity for Dementia Patients
Are you taking care of someone who's living with dementia? Indeed, it's a challenging feat. But did you know that there are things that can be done to make the challenge easier for you (the caregiver), and the person living with dementia? You see, for people with dementia, being creative can not only provide them with a sense of accomplishment, but it can also challenge various areas of their brain, exercise motor skill functions, enhance their cognitive function, as well as provide emotional connections.
As a caregiver, when you're choosing activities for someone with dementia, it's crucial to be mindful of their interests, abilities, and skills. Choosing activities that don't own a right or wrong way to execute is perfect because they're fun, they're satisfying, and they boost self-esteem.
But before we introduce some activities that would be great for those living with dementia, let's find out exactly what dementia is.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term, not a specific disease. Dementia is defined as a loss of memory, problem-solving, language skills, and a host of other thinking abilities that are so intense that they interfere with daily living. Alzheimer's disease is ranked the most common type of dementia. Although dementia largely affects seniors, it isn't a part of the normal aging process.
While cognitive abilities may vary daily, the following 10 crafts and activities for seniors with dementia can be enjoyed at almost any stage.
1. Bead Painting
For starters, you just simply need to purchase some medium to large-sized wood beads, and some acrylic paints. Did you know that painting is a great form of art therapy? Watch this how-to video: https://youtu.be/PoiM9cgefVQ
2. Flower Arranging
If your senior loves gardening and flowers, flower arranging is a perfect activity. Purchase some affordable faux flowers, florist foam (optional), and a plastic vase. Watch the joy on their face as they're arranging those flowers. Watch this how-to video: https://youtu.be/3NGjLBf02Ok
3. Attach Pipes and Fittings
Many seniors are also used to being their own handymen inside their homes. So a good craft for those types could possibly be pipe fitting. This can provide them with valuable memories of how proud they were when being handy. Grab some affordable, PVC pipes and fittings (different shapes and sizes) from the hardware store and let them put the pipes and fittings together and take them apart.
4. How About Some Homemade Play Dough
Modeling clay, kneading play dough, and making shapes are relaxing and fun activities for every age. Use some fun-shaped cookie cutters and play dough and watch your senior have a ball. Skip the store-bought playdough and try this homemade playdough recipe. If you want to add some relaxation, add a few drops of calming lavender essential oil.
Note: Although this homemade playdough recipe is non-toxic, it is not edible. Uncooked flour can contain bacteria that can cause illness. Watch these how-to videos:
How to make Play Dough/Clay: https://youtu.be/7_RxLjIWGoU
Creating things too! https://youtu.be/5s_W_MJi3co
5. Paper Flowers
Rather than making a flower arrangement with real flowers, consider using colored, crepe, or tissue paper for your flower arrangement. You'll likely need a pair of blunt scissors and thin wire for the stem. Watch this how-to video: https://youtu.be/swQEbnO2v9s
6. Make a Knotted Fleece Blanket
A knotted fleece blanket is great for a gift or keeping for yourself - It also doesn't require any sewing. You'll need some fleece cloth and scissors to create something that will be rather useful during winter. Watch this how-to video: https://youtu.be/hTL6bEz8y5c
7. Match Picture Cards - Memory
Memory is another great activity for seniors with dementia. Purchase memory cards or print two copies of different images or photos that seniors can match. Cut the images into equal-sized cards and then laminate them with some clear packing tape or a laminator.
In fact, you can use the cards to play simple sorting games, matching games, or just flip through the nice images.
If you have old catalogs or magazines, purchase an inexpensive notebook, glue stick, and some safety scissors. Encourage seniors to flip through the magazines, cut or tear out the things they like and glue them into their scrapbooks.
9. Stack Party Cups
Purchase inexpensive, colored plastic party cups and ask the senior to help clean and sort, or stack the cups according to color.
10. Create a Spelling Tray
Seniors can use a metal tray to stick colorful magnetic letters onto. A metal tray is a fun and creative way for dementia sufferers to spell words or play with colors and shapes familiar to them. You can also use a baking sheet (with raised sides) as the tray.
If you have Medicaid, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) is a Medicaid program that New York offers its qualifying residents. The CDPAP program allows consumers to hire, as well as manage their own home care workers. Another great thing about the program is that it allows consumers to hire family and friends if they so choose.
Written by: Leah Ganz
Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.