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Advance the motor and cognitive skills of your loved one by participating in a new activity

Get out the art supplies, the fabric and yarn, the containers and that mysterious box of miscellaneous materials you have in your home. This month, we celebrate National Craft Month!

Now is the perfect time to get creative and craft an item of your choice. If you are providing care for an aging loved one, there are plenty of craft options available for you to enjoy together. The combination of caregiving and art therapy can benefit your loved one in a variety of ways!

Aside from being a wonderful way to pass a rainy day, there are many subtle and worthwhile reasons to participate in crafting activities. Crafting reduces boredom. It proves to be a fun way to spend an afternoon, and can help improve motor and cognitive skills and provide intellectual stimulation. It is also be an effective way to facilitate socializing among people who might not otherwise spend time together. And finally, as a creative pursuit, it can expand self-awareness and self-expression.

Collage, quilting, painting, drawing, sculpture, scrapbooking, knitting, sewing, and photography are just a few examples of crafting activities! Each of these crafts has a myriad of categories within that offer a multitude of options when it comes to flexing one’s creativity muscles. Crafts have a way of weaving their way through our lives. At various times in our lives, some of us can engage many mediums and find creative outlets that bring us endless hours of pleasure. For others, we are attracted to certain crafts but simply do not have the time to devote to mastering the craft we love.

Whether a casual pursuit or a serious avocation, crafts are always available for our own pleasure or, as caregivers, serve as an opportunity to spend time with a loved one.

The list of crafts for seniors is only limited by your imagination, but here are a few options that promise a fun time for all.


Many seniors have a box or two filled with photographs that open the door to creating a scrapbook, photo magnets, and collages. Going through photos can bring up stories and memories that create connection and meaning. Putting together a photo album or scrapbook can prove to be a valuable experience for both the caregiver and loved one.


Whether you have a history of studying art or not it is never too late to start painting. Even if it has been years since the paint brush has been picked up, it is a muscle that seems to have a very long memory. Playing with shape, form, and color is always fun regardless of ability or experience.

Fabric Crafts

There are many patterns available for making simple gifts out of fabric. Designed journal covers and bags can be made from various fabrics and can be used for gifts. For those who love to knit or crochet but have difficulty holding the tools, try using a thicker crochet hook or larger gauge needles and choose heavier yarns.

Gift baskets

This is a great option for caregivers to do with seniors with dementia. Making a gift basket is a very satisfying activity and is easy. Gift baskets can be made individually or done together and can be created for birthdays, holidays or anniversaries. The process of creating a gift basket does require gathering or purchasing assorted items for the basket, but it is a lovely way to have someone with dementia create something that can be given to a family member with an air of celebration.


Another fun and simple activity for seniors who may need some guidance is decoupage. Get simple boxes or trays and cut out images from magazines, get out the Mod Podge and paste away!

If you are a caregiver, there are a few things to remember when crafting so that it is fun and stress free. Create a comfortable work space. Be sure to have all your supplies ready for the project you have in mind. If there are preliminary steps to be done beforehand, be sure to have them done so that the fun begins quickly. Have someone help you if needed and if you are working with more than one senior. Have patience and be sure to set aside enough time for the project. If necessary, plan on more than one session to complete the project.

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About the Author(s)

As a Volunteer Caregiver to the Zen Hospice Project and a Course Manager at the CareGivers Project, Audrey Meinertzhagen is passionate about improving the standards of care for older adults and educating caregivers on the principles of mindfulness and self-care.

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