5 Crafts That Help Seniors Keep Hands Busy and Minds Alert

coloring book and colored pencils

By Patricia LaCroix, Contributing Writer

Although we all get older — and often become less mobile as we age — we still can maintain and express our creativity. Staying creative is a great way to move and expand our physical bodies and the mental state of our minds.

Crafts are an excellent way for seniors to use and exercise their hands and their brains. Crafts rarely take up much room or space. Many can be done right at the kitchen table or while sitting on the sofa. The tools involved can be easy to acquire and often inexpensive. Skills are easy to learn or might already be part of the senior’s skill set.

If you are providing care for a senior, including craft time in their care plan is a wonderful way to add variety and interest to their day. Crafts as engaging mental activities can help seniors combat depression and mental decline, as well as give them a sense of worth and purpose.

While the senior might need some prodding or encouragement to get started, with some crafts, once seniors get the hang of it, they might take it upon themselves to initiate the work or projects, and might only need a little assistance from their caregivers going forward. However, it’s also a fun activity for both senior and caregiver alike — creating quality time and a subject matter the two can share together.

We’ve come up with five crafts that can help seniors keep their hands busy and their minds alert! Check them out and see if one of these crafts would be right for you and your senior loved one.

Painting

Painting doesn’t have to mean a full-blown, Rembrandt-reminiscent piece of art. For seniors, easier and more fun could be painting objects. For example, many hobby stores small, unfinished wooden pieces — letters, little bird houses, tiny chests. These little wooden objects can be painted with safe, easy-to-use acrylic paints that are also very easy to clean up with just water. Other objects that can be painted include rocks and terra cotta pots. Allow the senior to get creative and explore the use of multiple colors on each object. The painting doesn’t have to be perfect for the craft to do its job of exercising hands and minds — and bringing joy.

Crocheting

Unlike its sister craft of knitting, crocheting tends to be easier for three big reasons: 1) There’s only one tool — a crochet hook —being used, rather than two knitting needles. 2) Crochet is made up with a series of very easy to learn slip knots. 3) Because the stitches are slip knots, they can be pulled out very easily, if the crafter wants to start over. Crochet can be enjoyed while sitting virtually anywhere. It can be done individually, or it can be done with others working on their own projects. Projects don’t have to be large either. Something as simple as a potholder or a mug coaster can bring a lot of satisfaction quickly and could be made with knowledge of just one crochet stitch. All that’s needed is a crochet hook and a ball of yarn. If you want to get more adventurous, the internet is full of tutorials and patterns for beginners and beyond.

Coloring Books

What used to be an activity solely for children has become widely popular among adults of all ages. Adult coloring books allow older folks to gain the same benefits that children enjoy from coloring. It’s an outlet for creative expression. It’s a way to provide focus for one’s mind. It’s a great stress buster. And, frankly and simply, it’s fun! Adult coloring books tend to have as its images interesting and intricate abstract graphic designs as well as beautiful illustrations of people and nature. Crayons, markers, or color pencils can be used as tools. Anyone can do it, virtually anywhere! It’s a great spontaneous activity to add to one’s day as desired.

Paper

Cutting and glueing paper to create various designs can be a great way for seniors to past time in an enjoyable way. Just some of the things that can be made from cut and glued paper include bookmarks, photo collages that can be framed and hung on a wall, ornaments for a Christmas tree, a decorative streamer for a party, or a wreath for a door.

Chocolates

Yes! Chocolates can create some of the best (and tastiest) crafts of all! All sorts of yummy, edible items can be made even better — and prettier — by dipping them first in melted chocolate. All sorts of chocolate, including white chocolate, can be used. The chocolate can be easily, quickly, and safely melted in the microwave. For dipping, consider fruits, pretzels, candy canes, and cookies. Once dipped into the chocolate, the items can be further decorated and embellished with things such as colored sugar, sprinkles, or edible glitter. A fun activity that can produce not only tasteful treats for the senior, but also gifts that can be given away to others, such as grandchildren.

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