There are few things more enjoyable for someone with dementia than a curated fun and relaxing activity. Whether you’re visiting a beloved older adult in an assisted living facility or they’re coming over to your home, these Easter crafts for seniors with dementia are guaranteed to put a smile on their (and your!) face.
Why Are Fun Activities So Good for Dementia Patients?
Senior care isn’t always easy, but taking care of your older loved one with dementia is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Getting into celebration mode and crafting provides respite from daily life and provides the perfect leisure activity for older adults with memory loss. Not only that, it helps them maintain a sense of self, familiarity and routine.
Helping your loved ones stay connected to their unique identity is the best way to bring out the joy in their hearts. By finding a therapeutic activity that’s meaningful and brings back memories, you can help them stay connected.
Therapeutic activity is one that provides cognitive, emotional, and physical stimulation. It’s a careful balance to strike when it comes to older adults with dementia. Anything too complicated or confusing and you risk triggering feelings of inadequacy. The following tips will help ensure your loved one engages with the activity and teach you about the important benefits of crafting for seniors with memory loss.
At the end of the article, there’s advice on how to ensure your craft ideas are adapted for a person with dementia’s needs.
How To Ensure Easter Activities Are Engaging for People With Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
The aim of crafting with someone who has dementia is to soothe and nourish their soul. To do this, you should make sure the craft you choose is stage-specific and person-centered. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean too much extra work on your behalf. It just means you need to think about your loved one’s likes and dislikes and understand their abilities. Let’s look at the two concepts:
- Stage-specific: Someone in the early stages of dementia has a lot more external awareness than someone in mid-to-late-stage dementia. Speak to their social worker, doctor, or primary caregiver to find out which stage your loved one is in. Most of the crafts in this article are for people with mid-to-late-stage dementia, but some can be adapted for those with a more advanced illness.
- Person-centered: This means activities should tie in with the individual’s personal interests, tastes, likes, and dislikes. For instance, we’ve added one craft to the list that’s not very Easter-y in case making cute stuff was never an interest for your loved one! Remember, the more craft ideas remind older adults with dementia of their past experiences, the better.
Although dementia might affect many elements of your family member’s personality, they’re still the same person. By tailoring activities to their needs and preferences, you bring them a sense of purpose, belonging, productivity and joy.
Benefits of Easy Crafts for Seniors
Play is how we learn, and the fun never has to stop, no matter what age a person is. Let’s take a look at some of the mental and physical health benefits of crafting for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia:
- Provides upper extremity and hand-eye coordination exercise, promoting the maintenance of dexterity, strength, and range of motion
- Allows the individual to engage socially with the people they do the activity alongside
- Encourages the maintenance of a sense of self as the crafter focuses on and connects with a valued activity
- Promotes cognitive stimulation to help maintain cognitive abilities
- Provides an opportunity for creativity and self-expression
A Few Precautions To Take When Crafting With Older Adults
Although Easter crafts are super-fun, there are precautions you should help to keep your loved one safe, including:
- Supervise them constantly if your family member with dementia is using anything sharp, toxic, or dangerous
- Keep language positive and light-hearted, avoiding criticism or overt direction to ensure the activity feels fun and not restrictive
- Avoid putting paints, glues, or stains into cups your loved one might drink from
- Try not to use tiny decorative items and opt for large, chunky Easter crafting supplies where possible
18 Easter Crafts for the Older Adult in Your Life
When it comes to crafting, the possibilities are endless. You can hit the craft store and buy supplies or turn simple household objects into colorful, fun trinkets for almost no cost. Keep reading to learn more than a few crafts you and your family members can have fun creating this Easter.
1. Easter Bunny Treat Cups
Our first fun activity requires glue, white paper cups, and bunny ears. and noses made from white and pink card stock and cotton balls. Mark where the ears and nose need to go and your loved one can stick them to the cup to make a cute little Easter bunny treat cup.
2. Easter Egg Garland
This wonderful activity is sure to bring back pleasant memories. Use balloons or paper to make Easter eggs, then get your loved one to clip them to a line of string to make a bright Easter egg garland.
3. Easter Egg Hunt Clues
The Easter bunny loves bringing Easter eggs to all the family. While your loved one might not be able to get involved with the complexities of clue setting, they can help with sorting colors and come along when you hide them.
4. Hats Made From Party Cups
Use inexpensive plastic party cups to make hats by sticking string to either side. Add felt bunny ears and a pink button nose to get into the spirit of the season.
5. Homemade Play Dough Easter Shapes
Find some modeling clay or play dough and use fun cookie cutters to make Easter shapes with your loved one. Kneading play dough is highly pleasurable for many seniors with dementia, and they’ll be delighted with the finished results.
6. Homemade Percussion
Another awesome craft for music lovers is making a fun music shaker. Take a clean plastic container and get your senior family member to put pasta inside. Decorate the outside with Easter eggs and Easter bunnies or simply paint it a pretty bright color, and have fun making music.
7. Easter Flower Arranging
Flower arranging is a fun way to enjoy the spoils of the Easter season. Depending on your budget, you can use inexpensive artificial flowers, a plastic vase and florist foam or opt for real beautiful flowers. Easter is one of the best times of year to enjoy flowers, and they’re a true treat for all the senses — perfect for bringing back beloved memories for someone struggling with memory loss.
8. Decorate Eggs
This fun craft is a classic. Make decorated eggs from plaster of Paris by covering a balloon in a mixture of glue water, leaving it to set and then painting it. Alternatively, use ready-made plastic eggs, cover them in paper and paint them cute pastel colors.
9. Easter Suncatcher
Making an Easter suncatcher is easier than you might think. All you need to do is create outlines of chicks, eggs and Easter bunnies with black card stock. Give your loved one an outline and show them how to stick tissue paper down to fill in the middle. Punch a hole in the top and thread through some string and your suncatchers are ready to hang in the windows.
10. Sock Animals
Ask your family members what their favorite animals are. Use socks, cotton balls, buttons, beads, and pre-stitched ears to recreate them. Either use fabric glue or large blunt plastic needles to stick or sew the features onto the sock animals.
11. Clothespin Easter Bunnies
There’s a simple way to make Easter bunnies with an older adult who has dementia. Cut out Easter bunny faces using circles of card stock and get your loved one to clip colorful clothespins to the top as ears.
12. Brightly Colored Spoon Animals
One of the most hands-on activities is making spoon animals together. Cut out ears, eyes and noses in advance, and use old or new wooden spoons. Paint the spoons with your beloved older adult and stick the features together.
13. Easter Egg Wreath
Making Easter egg wreaths is a great way to engage older adults and remind them of yesteryear. Paint plastic eggs in pastel colors and attach them to a ring of foam using hot glue.
14. Easter Magazine Scrapbook
Make an Easter scrapbook with your loved one using blunt scissors and holiday magazines with pictures of traditional Easter food, animals, and other familiar symbols that conjure up memories of the holiday season.
15. Paper Plate Bunnies
Cut out ear, nose, eye, and mouth shapes using felt and string, then get your loved one to attach them to a paper plate to make Easter bunnies. Feel free to make chicks or any other animal that your family member adores.
16. Pine Cone Bird Feeders
One of the best things about the spring season is the abundance of birds and birdsong. Many older adults with dementia love watching birds, and making feeders can help attract them to your yard. Help your loved one spread peanut butter on a pine cone, then sprinkle it with birdseed. Tie a string to the top so you can hang it outside.
17. Easter Bunny Crowns
Dress everyone up as kings and queens by making Easter bunny crowns. Cut zig-zag shapes into thick strips of card stock and make cute Easter shapes to stick onto the crowns. Paint or color the crowns with your loved one, and get them to stick the card together at each end to make a crown. Make sure everyone has one to wear for dinner.
18. Sort Inexpensive Hardware Parts
Lastly, let’s face it, not everyone enjoys making cute Easter crafts. If your family was more into DIY than crafting, provide your loved ones with an activity to cater to their needs. For example, they could attach pipes, unscrew and screw in items using a large screwdriver for kids or tie and untie knots.
Tips for Adapting Crafts for Aging Adults This Easter
The following tips are aimed to help you adapt Easter crafts such as drawing, coloring, painting, sticking, and other similar activities. You’ll need to provide step-by-step instructions and be on hand to remind your loved one of the next step. Where possible, limit any choices (such as color, materials, or accents) to one or two.
Keep in mind the following when crafting with an older adult with dementia this Easter:
- Your loved ones might not fully comprehend the purpose of crafting, but they can still derive pleasure from the familiarity and motion of the Easter activities.
- Simple, repetitive motions like painting, clipping, cutting, and sticking are highly enjoyable for someone with memory loss.
- Cut out shapes and prepare complex items in advance so your loved one with dementia is only required to perform simple actions such as gluing and coloring.
- Expect them to give their undivided attention to a task for five to 20 minutes. Use cues and enthusiasm to reconnect them with the task after checking if there’s anything else they need at that moment.
- If necessary, support them in the motion of the activity and avoid remarking on their accuracy or aptitude at meeting a goal.
- Ensure all required tools are close at hand for the person with dementia who’s making Easter crafts.
- Be careful to demonstrate each action your loved one is required to take, one step at a time, and gently manipulate their hands to perform the desired motion if necessary.
- Never expect a loved one with memory loss to recognize errors, and don’t move to correct them unless the person expresses a desire for you to do so.
- Never expect your loved one to perform a task perfectly, and don’t show disappointment in an end product — remember, it’s all about the process.
At Riddle Village, we are dedicated to providing activities that greatly benefit seniors. Learn more about our wonderful community by contacting us at (610) 891-3700. We also offer independent living, personal care, and skilled nursing care.