Easy Craft Ideas

by Suzanne
(Norcross, GA)

Crafts for Indoor Activities

Whether you're the activity director in a large nursing home or senior activity center or taking care of Mom or Dad in your home or theirs, keeping seniors mentally stimulated and physically active in a number of activities can help stave off conditions like depression and reduced range of motion and improve enjoyment and quality of life.

As an adult child of a senior, or as a primary caregiver of the senior individual who you've known for quite some time, you probably know what Mom likes to do. Still, if you're not sure, sit down with your loved one and come up with a list of suggestions for activities that help keep them physically, mentally and emotionally engaged in the environment around them.

Mental stimulation may help prevent feelings of isolation, depression and withdrawal in many seniors who have lost friends to illness or death, or the physical ability to enjoy the things they used to.

If Mom is basically home bound and doesn't have easy access to transportation, or is physically or cognitively unable to engage in outside activities as often as she'd like, it's the caregivers responsibility to take care of her mental health and wellness as much as it is to take care of her physical needs.

Indoor Activity Suggestions

Help your loved ones to stimulate their fine motor control, their brain, and their understanding by offering enjoyable yet challenging activities for them to engage in. Try to avoid repetition.

Some long-term care nursing homes and centers seem to always fall back on bingo, coloring and holiday craft making that is better suited to an elementary school classroom than a room full of experienced adults with a wealth of history between them.

Maintain the dignity that such seniors deserve by offering more whenever possible. Of course, you need to take into consideration the physical and cognitive abilities of your parent.

For example, if Mom has difficulty holding or using a small scissors, cutting out photos for scrap- booking might not be the best idea, but she can help with placement of photos and insertion of memory or comment bubbles within those pages.

Dad, an avid golfer or angler, may scoff at the idea of sitting at the computer, but logging onto sporting websites and profiles of famous golfers or anglers or even finding sports-related computer games may keep him happy for hours.

The key is to cater activities and ideas to the likes, dislikes and abilities of your parent. Some of the most common indoor activities for the
elderly include ideas such as:

* Gardening - yes, you can garden and grow things indoors by helping Mom or Dad make a rock garden or terrarium or even a miniature Zen garden in a table top glass jar or in a corner of a room.

* If you choose a board game to play, encourage those that involve more than two people. While checkers or chess is fine, try more modern games that encourage group activities.

Games like Pictionary and Table Topics™ and the ever-popular Wheel of Fortune encourage communication between three or more individuals and help stimulate memories, laughter, and enjoyment.

* Many women enjoy flower arranging easy crafts and holiday crafts and cake decorating, while men may prefer sharing time together watching sports games and playoffs on TV. Think outside the box.

* Pet therapy events are enjoyed by most seniors. Pets are extremely therapeutic and can help lift the spirits of home or facility-bound seniors.

* Many seniors enjoy Bible or religious study sessions that include discussions, videos, and visits by individuals within the religious community or christian crafts of paper and drawings.

* Contests that include anything from jigsaw puzzle fitting to crossword puzzles, bingo tournaments, or problem solving is enjoyed by many seeking mental challenges.

* Indoor carnival events such as beanbag tossing, indoor golf, or Nerf basketball can also be enjoyed by seniors even if they're in a wheelchair. Encourage playfulness and spontaneity.

* Trivia games and spelling bees are also popular and can be done in a small home environment or a large nursing facility. Start with states and capitals and move on to famous people, famous places, or global events.

* Music - it's believed that elderly music soothes the soul. Encourage musical activities, whether your parent plays a musical instrument or enjoys listening to someone play the piano, to sing-alongs or events where choral groups come to serenade seniors in a nursing facility to actively starting a choral group of your own.

* Cards - card-playing games are familiar to most seniors. Don't just stick to Fish, Bridge or Old Maid - for those who are able, play poker, blackjack and modern card games like Uno. Have a Texas Hold 'em contest or encourage a tournament.

The key to choosing indoor games or activities that stimulate seniors is to use your imagination. Most of all, keep it fun. Give your loved one something to look forward to either on a daily or weekly basis that evokes all Mom's senses and Dad's love for a good laugh.

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