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Crafts and Activities for People with Alzheimer's

Updated on May 21, 2016

Easy Crafts for those with Memory Issues

My Mother is a resident in an Alzheimer's unit at a local nursing home. Mom loves to stay busy and enjoys the craft time each afternoon. One day a week, I volunteer to put together a craft project for the residents. I have had a fun but challenging time looking for some crafts that would look nice but be easier enough to work with the residents who have a variety of different ability levels and attention spans.

On this page, I will share with you some of the projects that I have developed and found to use with the residents. I also have a list of future projects to help me remember what I've been thinking about. Perhaps you will find my list useful too!

photograph is my Mom and me with a finished craft project

photographs by Mary Beth Granger

Photo Greeting Cards - add your own photo

For one of the projects I bought a pack of photo greeting cards and brought in a number of photographs of flowers that I had taken. We spent a bit of time talking about the different flowers and then I let each person choose their favorite flower photo to add to their card. I then added the photo to the card while the residents looked through my box of stickers to pick out a few to decorate each card.

I also had cut out some verses from the insides of old cards that I read out loud and each person picked one verse for their card. We then assembled the cards and talked about who they would like to give their cards. Some were excited to have a card to send to an out of town relative, so I helped them to address and mail their cards. Others wanted to give the card to someone who would be visiting.

I feel this was a very successful project. Everyone seemed pleased with the finished product. You can see my Mom holding her card in the photo at the beginning of this page.

Show by my Granddaughters - residents enjoy visits from children

When my granddaughters were in town I brought them up to visit my Mom regularly. The residents really enjoyed the interaction with the girls so on the Friday before they left they put on a "show" for the residents. They told a couple of jokes, sang some songs and showed how they could use a hula hoop. The residents seemed to really enjoy the show!

Shell Box
Shell Box

Shell Decorated Box

simple to make

This box was a very simple project and yet the residents really enjoyed it. i bought boxes from the dollar bins at Target that were already finished boxes. I then laid out some of my shells and an initial for each resident and they laid out a decoration plan on the top of the box. My granddaughters were visiting that day and we all helped the residents to glue down their items on the boxes. They now had a colorful box to keep their trinkets.

Photograph is of my Mom showing off her finished box.

Lighthouse show and tell
Lighthouse show and tell

Show and Tell

and coloring sheets

I have found another activity that works great with the residents is a "Show and Tell" type of program. I pick a subject that I know a bit about and bring some items to use to tell about the subject.

I love everything about lighthouses so on my first "Show and Tell" I brought in my lighthouse figurines and some of the photos I've taken of lighthouses. I showed them to the residents with a story about each of the lighthouses. When I was finished, I passed out coloring sheets of a lighthouse. This program went over well and the male residents also seemed to like the program.

On my second " Show and Tell" I brought in items from our baseball Cardinal collection. I talked about the Cardinals and a bit about their history. This was a hit with many of the people. I then had a coloring sheet with the Cardinal emblem.

photograph shows lighthouse in Jupiter Florida.

July 4th Bell - easy holiday craft

Here is a very easy holiday craft for July 4th. It could also be adapted for other occasions. All you need is a paper cup, pipe cleaner, jingle bell, yarn and some stickers.

To make you punch a small hole in the top of the cup to stick the pipe cleaner through. After you stick part of the pipe cleaner through the hole make a small loop with it inside the cup to attach a piece of yarn with bells on the end. I had the participants decorate the cup with stickers.

Now they have a festive bell that they can hang on their door knobs or walkers.

Shell and Bead Necklace
Shell and Bead Necklace

Shell and Bead Necklace

a favorite project

The ladies seem to love to make jewelry. In this craft I used some of the shells I found at the beach with holes in the top and the ladies surrounded them with beads on some colored necklace string that was purchased at a local craft store.

Here Mom shows off her finished necklace.

Wooden Decorative Birdhouses - painting project

I have found that the ladies at Mom's place love to paint. I found these cute little birdhouses at a local craft shop for $1 each. I gave each of the ladies two different colors in small cups, a paint brush, and a cup of water. They had so much fun painting their birdhouses and they were so proud of them when they were done. I will look for more painting projects.

Activities with Chestnut Terrace Group - alzheimer unit

This section is for me to keep track of the activities that I have completed with Mom's group. If you have any questions about any of the activities just send me a note.

  1. Seashell Cross
  2. Seashell Necklace
  3. Flower Photo Greeting Cards
  4. Lighthouse Talk and Coloring Sheet
  5. Suncatchers
  6. Cardinal Talk and Coloring Sheet
  7. Show with my granddaughters and making box covered with shells.
  8. Decorate Foam Butterflies
  9. Frames made of Dove bar sticks--painted and decorated
  10. July 4th bell show and tell with my Mom's bell collection and bell making craft.
  11. Felt Owl Pins
  12. Jewel Leaves
  13. Foam Pumpkins
  14. Halloween Masks
  15. Scratch Jack O Lanterns
  16. Give Thanks Magnets
  17. Turkey Pins
  18. Trees out of folded Magazines
  19. Paint Glass Ornaments
  20. Snowman from Paint Stir Sticks
  21. Christmas Felt magnets
  22. Christmas Bells out of paper cups
  23. Snowmen Magnets
  24. Heart sticker boxes
  25. Valentine Cards

My Mom, Ann Schroeder, went to heaven on March 2, 2014.

Love you Mom.

I'm always looking for new ideas of easy crafts. Let me know if you have an idea.

Do you have an idea for a craft you'd like to share? - stop by and leave a message

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    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Great hub, because this is so important. Twelve years ago my mom passed away after a long fight with an illness unrelated to Alzheimer, when I was only ten years old. I wish I had known of a way to entertain her, and kind of help her have at least a few minutes of pleasure, by showing her how to entertain herself making crafts and such

      I guess when someone has Alzheimers there's so many things about it that makes you sad. I can see that you love your mom very much, and are active in her life. You're a great daughter, and this is a good hub

      I voted it up

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 3 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      Great Ideas and inexpensive ! It's so important to give these folks a sense of accomplishment. Thanks for sharing !

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Sweet! I just posted to I'm the Alzheimers & Dementia contributor lens and to Facebook. Thanks for sharing it. It's perfect.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 3 years ago from Idaho

      These are great ideas, that should help stimulate their minds.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 3 years ago from UK

      You have wonderful craft ideas here. I especially like the idea of those painted bird boxes and the jewellery.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      This is such a horrible disease, sure am praying for some sort of a cure one day - These ideas are wonderful, I can see how craft activities would certainly help a little - your grand daughters and mom look lovely too

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      Wonderful lens and ideas, my mother was a victim of this awful disease and eventually had to go into a home. It was however not a special unit and little effort was made to stimulate the men and women living there.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks so much for these ideas. I'm a part of a nursing home ministry at my church, in Oct we plan to do a VBS (vacation bible school) for the senior at the home and these ideas will sure help. Thanks again and bless your work. Maudean in Texas

    • Vincent Fleming profile image

      Vincent Fleming 4 years ago from Indiana

      Great Lens, we are all touched by this dreadful disease. My grandmother has it and it is heartbreaking. Great ideas.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      I had a mother-in-law with Alzheimer's disease and she loved to do crafts.

    • profile image

      Ibidii 4 years ago

      How sweet of your grand daughters to put on the show for the people with Alzheimers. What an awesome volunteer you are!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am working with my grandmorther and her eye site is low. I was thinking about a long term project like a tie blanket that is like a quilt. What do you all think?

    • charlie1232 profile image

      charlie1232 4 years ago

      what a beautiful lens, very inspiring. I work for a charity that helps older people in UK and I know how much it helps people with Alzheimers to have people visit and work with them on simple tasks like your shell boxes.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 4 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Great ideas! I'm not good with crafts so I'm impressed by how many simple crafts are available that are appropriate. Angel blessed

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      Great work and what a godsend you are to these lovely ladies. Your granddaughters are adorable. This is a horrible disease. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2013 and also on Brain Matters. Hugs.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Its wonderful that you are spending time creating and helping your Mom. - God bless! :)

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      I am happy for you and Mom, it is well deserved Purple star.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 4 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Great ideas: Blessed

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      By the way, I like your dedication, and involvement in this right cause. All the best for you and Mom.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      It is great she is determine to do craft, and have the pleasure of accomplishments... our mothers are a great generation... Blessings

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      Thanks for these great craft ideas!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I take students several times a year to a nursing home. One of my favorite activities was putting peanut butter on bagels and then putting them on a plate full of bird seed. We tied ribbon to the bagels and put them on a big bush so the residents could watch the birds enjoy them. You have to be careful...some of the residents wanted to eat the bagels, the peanut butter and the bird seed!!!

    • CraftaholicVete profile image

      CraftaholicVete 5 years ago

      Great ideas for the crafts because it gives them something to do. Thanks for sharing

    • CraftaholicVete profile image

      CraftaholicVete 5 years ago

      Memory Lane Box, that might spark some great memories

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I think a craft working with scent would be a great idea as scent is such a great trigger for memory. I'm in England but can email craft ideas if you would like just contact lesa@naturaleigh.co.uk

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      Having been through the Alzheimer's caregiver ordeal, I congratulate you on such a creative and positive attitude - I know how important that is and how difficult it can be. A few other quick suggestions:

      1. Cut out pictures from a magazine, glue them behind a discarded eyeglass lens, add a pinback from a craft store and you've got a lovely brooch.

      2. Glue two jar covers together back to back with a ribbon loop sandwiched between them (to hang it from). Glue cut out pictures or stickers to the inside of each jar cover and you've got an easy Christmas decoration for a tree or cut a photo so it is round and will fit inside the lid and you've got a framed picture of a loved one to hang in their room.

      3. Caring for plants has lots of psychological and health benefits - even for those with dementia. You could have them decorate inexpensive plastic flower pots with pictures, cut out "mosaic" shapes, or even pasta shapes. Depending on their abilities and nursing home rules, you can have them plant a few seeds or a small plant or on another day they could make paper flowers to arrange in the pot.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 5 years ago from Iowa

      Simply brilliant. Creativity and artful projects are a wonderful way to keep the brain active. You've created a wonderful idea generator and resource for those looking for ideas.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      What fabulous ideas! My grandmothers struggled with alzheimers for nearly a decade and it was really difficult to find activities for her that would not have a potential harm factor. These a really great suggestions!

    • mbgphoto profile image
      Author

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      @HealthfulMD: Thanks a great idea...thanks.

    • mbgphoto profile image
      Author

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      @OhMe: I could really tell that the residents loved music when my granddaughters came. They sang "if you're happy and you know it" and" the hokey pokey" and they had everyone joining in with the actions and some of the words.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Love this! You and your mom favor. You have certainly found some wonderful crafts. I remember that music was something that my mom continued to enjoy and we would sing a lot and play old records. I did a Name That Tune one time at a nursing home and it was a big hit.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      Beautiful way to spend time with your mother.

      How about making a collage with magazines cutouts or tearing pages?

    • profile image

      marsha32 5 years ago

      They say these things really help them too. My mother in law has dementia and it gets worse with each passing day.