Crafting offers many benefits to older adults, especially those with limited mobility or dexterity. Crafts provide stimulation and stress relief, help maintain motor skills, and can offer opportunities to socialize. Because they require concentration, focus, and creative thinking, they can also help exercise the brain to slow the deterioration of cognitive function. Finally, crafting results in decorative or functional items that provide a sense of accomplishment and can trigger fond memories when you see them being used or displayed.
Is your loved one in need of a new hobby? Here’s a selection of our favorite crafts for seniors.
Knitting & Crocheting
Knitting and crocheting enhance dexterity and coordination, and can also produce some lovely hats, scarves, and sweaters you’ll enjoy for years to come. Holding knitting needles or a crochet hook helps improve visual-spatial and hand-eye coordination skills, which tend to decrease over time for seniors. And selecting and handling beautiful yarns with different textures is a mood-boosting, sensory experience.
Many seniors already know how to knit or crochet, but if not, caregivers or family members can help them get started. There are plenty of online videos, community classes, and books available with step-by-step instructions. Just start small and work your way up to bigger projects.
Collecting and arranging photographs, memorabilia, quotes, and snippets of art is an enjoyable way to spark memory and create nostalgia. Since scrapbooking is often so personal, it is also a way to help seniors maintain a sense of identity and independence. Many senior living communities and senior centers have scrapbooking groups that meet weekly or monthly. This social component of scrapbooking provides even more benefits, allowing opportunities for camaraderie, teamwork, and communication skills. The act of scrapbooking itself enhances manual dexterity and mental acuity, as participants sort, cut, arrange, and fix the items and embellishments on each page.
There are many how-tos for scrapbooking available online, and many craft and specialty stores sell scrapbooking supplies, but the basic process is easy. Simply choose a book with sturdy pages and paste photos, images, newspaper clippings, etc. into the book in a way that mirrors what you want to express. You can choose a theme for each book, or even make a book dedicated to a specific person as a gift. There are no hard and fast rules – you or your loved one can create whatever is most unique to you!
Decoupage is the French word for cutting, and this craft is the art of decorating an object (like a cardboard box, ceramic pot, glass jar, or piece of furniture) by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it. This can be done in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf, and other decorative elements, and then the entire surface is painted with layers of clear lacquer or sealant to create a permanent decorative finish. This type of craft can be as simple or complex as your loved-one’s abilities allow and is suitable for people of all ages and skill levels.
Health benefits of decoupage center around improving fine motor skills and dexterity as you rip or cut and glue pieces of paper to your chosen object. This is a relatively straightforward craft that requires easy focus, which calms the mind and reduces stress. There can also be elements of pattern and color recognition which stimulate certain areas of the brain, improving cognition.
You and your loved one can have many hours of fun learning a new craft or rekindling an old pastime. For more recommendations on engaging and beneficial activities for seniors, visit the Brightwater Senior Living blog.