Creative expression as a form of therapy is known to offer many benefits to seniors. A simple art project is more than a way to pass time. This can especially be true for seniors with Alzheimer's disease.
Arts and crafts help create emotional connections, encourage engagement and self-expression, and as well as stimulate memory.
Here are three project ideas to try this fall. Not only will this finished product give a sense of accomplishment, but it's a wonderful way to spend time bonding with Mom.
Don’t let the idea of creating a quilt overwhelm you. It doesn’t need to be a California King-sized project. A quilting project can be as small as a throw pillow, a placemat or a wall hanging. A baby-blanket-sized quilt can be a fun activity and give Mom a real sense of accomplishment when given to a great-grandchild.
Quilting is a good choice if your mom has arthritis or a weakened grip because you use a sewing machine to do the majority of the work. Even cutting squares of fabric can be made easier using a rotary cutter tool. If it’s necessary to minimize cutting, fabric stores have pre-cut fabric bundles in a wide variety of colors and patterns (all cotton — the recommended material to use for a quilt).
For a beginner or simpler project, a straight-line quilt is the way to go.
Great resource: Quilting for Dummies by Cheryl Fall.
You can also get free eTips and a quilting cheat sheet to help get you started if you’re new to quilting.
The history of découpage is believed to date back as far as the 12th century, when peasants from the Far East used cutouts from bright, colorful papers to decorate gift boxes, lanterns and other objects. Later, in the 17th century, using lacquer to cover objects, especially furniture, with prints or engravings from popular artists became very fashionable among European aristocracy.
The wonderful thing about the découpage of today is that you don’t need a crafty bone in your body to try it. ModPodge is an easy-to-use découpage medium available in any store that sells craft supplies. It is a glue, sealant and finishing varnish all-in-one.
Your choice of decorating supplies is almost limitless: wrapping paper, napkins, wallpaper scraps, greeting cards, pictures from magazines and catalogs, fabric or photographs.
And the objects you can use to attach your pictures to are plentiful: glass bottles, vases, plant pots, boxes, picture frames, notebooks, wooden cut-outs, plates, bowls, wooden trays
With a few simple supplies (any of the above, plus scissors and several sizes of paint brushes) découpage transforms almost any object or surface into a beautiful, whimsical piece of art to be admired on a mantle or given as a gift. In fact, with the holidays just around the corner découpage Christmas ornaments might be the perfect project for you and your mom. And the great thing about this project? There’s no right or wrong way to paint on the ModPodge, and if you make a mistake, no one will ever know because it just dries clear!
Great Resource: Amy Anderson’s Mod Podge Rocks website.
Need a little inspiration? Check out Amy’s 101 Unique & Amazing Mod Podge Uses.
Although a creative activity, scrapbooking is also a great memory exercise. And since most of us spend years and years documenting memories with photos, there will be no lack of materials for this project.
Hobby and craft stores have albums designed specifically for scrapbooking. The album pages range in size from 12x12 inches to 5x6 inches and even smaller books. You can tackle an entire decade or focus on one favorite holiday, vacation or family reunion.
As you sort through old photos you may want to set up a voice recorder. By recording the comments your mom makes about certain times or events you can later add journal entries next to photos, further capturing those memories the way your mom experienced them.
Avoid using glue sticks, tacky glue or rubber cement to attach photos as these products are not acid-free and can discolor or damage photos. There are many different adhesives available. If your mom has lost some fine motor skills, a product such as an adhesive tape runner gun makes it possible to keep mom involved in the project.
A scrapbooking project is especially helpful if your mom is showing signs of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The disorder tends to affect short-term memories at first, so creating a memory book of the events and people she can still easily remember becomes a fantastic source of reference later, if the disease progresses.
Keep in mind that a person’s memories are unique to their individual experiences. If your goal is simply to spend quality time together, then a scrapbook of your family’s trip to Disney World is a fun way to keep your parent involved in the lives of their grandchildren.
Great resource: Creative Memories Blog.
Keep in mind that some of these tasks might be challenging for your mom, so be flexible and ready to make modifications that will keep her engaged without making her feel frustrated. The sense of pride from w project well-done will serve you both and delight the recipients of these handmade treasures.