While caring for your older family member with dementia, you might sometimes notice them fidgeting with their hands. This can be a sign of anxiety or agitation. Doing things with their hands can be calming. However, without things to do, the older adult may turn to destructive or harmful behaviors, like picking at their skin or tearing things. By offering them other activities to do with their hands, you can keep them busy while also calming their anxiousness. Below are some suggestions for activities that can keep your aging relative’s hands busy.

Fidget Blanket

A fidget blanket is a piece of cloth that has things attached to it for the older adult to manipulate with their hands. There might be zippers or buttons as well as items of different textures to feel. You can purchase a fidget blanket or make one yourself. For a quick and easy fidget blanket, start with a bath towel. Securely sew items to it that are safe and provide sensory stimulation.

Stringing Beads

Purchase large beads with wide holes and some string or cord. Encourage the older adult to string beads on the cord. A word of caution, though, if your aging relative tends to put things in their mouth, this may not be a good activity for them. Likewise, if there is a chance they will use the cord to wrap around fingers or their neck to restrict circulation, choose another activity.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a calming activity that can keep older adults busy for quite some time. When choosing a puzzle, consider your aging relative’s abilities. If a large puzzle with small pieces would be too difficult, choose a smaller one with fewer and larger pieces. In the later stages of dementia, you may even wish to purchase puzzles made for children.

Art Work

Giving an older adult a creative outlet can be calming and relieve boredom. The senior may enjoy painting, coloring in a coloring book, or making crafts. Choose activities that are enjoyable to the older adult, but be careful to use only safe materials. Make sure paints, clay, and other substances are non-toxic. Avoid using sharp items, like scissors or craft knives.

Memory care can set up activities for your aging relative to do during the day to keep their hands busy. An elder care provider can get out the art supplies and help them to get started. Elder care providers can also supervise the older adult to make certain they don’t put things in their mouth or do other things that might be harmful.


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Avonlea Cottage of Dixon is licensed in the state of Illinois as a shared housing establishment. It is a private home-like environment for seniors suffering from memory loss issues. If you, or an aging loved-one, are considering memory care in Tampico, IL, call us to get more information and schedule a tour. (815) 288-6044.

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