Just because mom or dad is getting a little older or dealing with cognitive issues doesn't mean that he or she can’t still enjoy and take advantage of hands-on activities that promote creativity and imagination.
Birthday crafts are one of the best ways to do that. Getting mom involved in the creative activities such as making handcrafted gifts for friends or relatives is an excellent way to promote her sense of belonging, social interaction, as well as promoting tactile dexterity.
Cater crafting activities to meet mom’s cognitive and physical capabilities. It can be challenging to come up with a number of crafting activities that are not only entertaining, but appropriate for physical or cognitive challenges, but be willing to offer several and see which mom does best with.
Dementia, including Alzheimer's, can offer specific challenges for loved ones who want to keep mom engaged and socially active. When devising birthday or holiday-focused crafts for mom, it's important to not only ensure that she'll be
able to follow the instructions, but that you'll be able to give her the space that she needs to make her feel useful, productive, and competent. It's very important not to treat mom like a child.
When choosing a craft for a loved one with dementia or any physical limitation, it's important to choose a craft that won't be overwhelming. Crafting should be enjoyable and relaxing.
A number of birthday-related crafts for seniors are listed here, but use your imagination when seeking a craft that will fit mom’s temperament and personality. If mom is dealing with a vision impairment or a form of dementia, birthday crafts that involve tactile senses such as touch and smell may be beneficial. Such crafts include working with clay, finger paints, or beads. Painting rocks or pottery type activities are excellent ideas for those who enjoy art.
Another idea for a birthday gift is a memory box. Loved ones can help mom decide what will go into the box, which are often mounted on the walls or placed in bookcases, filled with mementos of a loved one's childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.
Paper crafts are good ideas for seniors who have visual as well as manual dexterity. Making crafts like bookmarks, door hangers, birthday banners, and homemade greeting cards are just a few of the ideas that you can broach with mom when it comes to birthday crafts.
Any type of craft, whether it's birthday or holiday related, or just for fun, can also be used to help mom remember things, or bring up pleasant memories. Cutting pictures out of magazines (for those who are capable of using the scissors) is a great way to get mom talking.
A variety of art materials including watercolors, crayons, and paint are also excellent ways to not only improve manual dexterity and hand/eye coordination, but to encourage mom to try new things. Just remember to give mom the dignity and respect she deserves, regardless of the vehicles used to create the crafts.
Avoid encouraging mom to engage in more difficult levels of crafting including scrap booking, knitting, crocheting, or other activities that require following intense instructions or imagination unless mom shows an interest and aptitude in engaging in those crafts. Find out what mom liked to do in the past when it comes to crafts. You’ll likely be surprised to realize she has skills that you never realized she had. Fall back onto those skills when coming up with craft ideas.
Some crafts that require manual dexterity can be very difficult for a senior diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, or cognitive limitations caused by various forms of dementia.
Such crafts may only result in frustration and anxiety for an elderly loved one. Take it slow. Experiment with a variety of birthday, holiday, or just for fun crafts that focus on getting mom involved.