Alzheimer's / Dementia

3/22/2021 | By Rachel Marsh

Though those with memory loss issues – such as Alzheimer’s or dementia – are living with cognitive decline, it’s still important to keep their minds engaged. Hand activities for dementia patients help them get through each day, and help them to at least feel productive.

Dementia: The Importance of Staying Busy

Boredom, monotony, and under-stimulation often cause anxiety and depression among those living with dementia. This can lead to aggression, sundowning, and even a lower quality of life. However, regularly providing your loved one with structure and an objective can help prevent a lot of these negative emotions – even if the task is menial and arbitrary.

Hand activities for dementia patients help focus their attention and energy on something without it taking up too much concentration or causing frustration.

Additionally, some of the suggestions below include goal-oriented activities – such as folding towels, or untying knots. While these tasks aren’t necessarily ultimately productive, having an end result can still make someone living with memory issues feel engaged and useful – and overall, happier.

Hand Activities for Dementia Patients

Whether you’re a caregiver for your loved one with memory loss, or they’re in a memory care community, these hand activities can help keep them engaged and stimulated throughout the day.

These blankets are designed for, well – fidgeting. They have different objectives sewn in, such as buttons, zippers, bows, clips, and so on; fidget blankets can help keep a user’s hands and mind busy for an extended period of time, without requiring too much concentration.

  • Coloring

It’s not just for kids – really! Coloring has proven benefits for adults of all ages and mental levels. It helps relieve stress, improve sleep, and induce relaxation. And, yes, it’s among the greatest hand activities for dementia patients because of its calming nature and goal-oriented structure.

  • Basic knitting or crocheting 

Especially if your loved one used to enjoy knitting or crocheting, this is a great activity to help keep their mind occupied. Offer large gauge needles or hooks, and use brightly colored yarn. You may need to get the project started, and it may end up looking like a jumble anyway, but they will still benefit from the relaxing repetitiveness of knitting or crocheting.

  • Play-doh

Such a malleable substance is a great way to offer tactile stimulation to seniors with cognitive decline. Simply playing with Play-doh can even increase creativity and reduce anxiety. You can even add plastic cookie cutters and other safe tools to the mix!

  • Folding towels

Again, seniors with memory issues crave an activity that allows them to feel successful. Give your loved one a basket full of towels (hand towels are ideal, since they’re easier to use) and ask them to help fold. This will help them stay occupied, and offer up a sense of purpose (even if the towels aren’t folded very well!).

  • Untying knots

Get a medium-thickness rope (they can be found at the hardware store!) and tie a few loose knots in it. Ask your loved one to help untie the knots – which may lead to that valuable sense of accomplishment when it’s done. 

Keep It Simple

These hand activities for dementia patients are just some things a person with memory loss may enjoy; however, any basic, simple tasks are ideal. Just ensure that all objects are safe and void of choking hazards.

Additionally, you may consider having a box filled with objects for your loved one; if they seem bored or agitated, you can quickly pull out a fidget blanket, coloring book, or Play-doh.

Overall, when trying to find the best activities, it may take some experimentation to see what your loved one enjoys most. Every person living with dementia has different wants and needs, but the end-goal is to engage your loved one in something fun and occupying.

Rachel Marsh

Award-winning writer Rachel Marsh has written for many different sites and publications on a variety of topics. She is the multimedia editor for Seniors Guide and works hard to make sure seniors and their families have the best information possible. When she’s not writing for work, she can be found writing for fun. Really!

Rachel Marsh