A Day in the Life of a Caregiver: Craft Ideas for Seniors
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The number of senior citizens requiring care and supervision has grown exponentially over the last few decades. As a result, the number of home care agencies has grown too. As more and more family members entrust the health and wellbeing of their loved ones to home care agencies, the demand for responsible, compassionate caregivers has skyrocketed.
The role of a caregiver can vary wildly. Some clients need very little in the way of assistance, while others may require around-the-clock care and supervision. On top of that, the daily routine of a particular caregiver is rarely ever the same. The aging process can wreak havoc on physical, mental, and emotional faculties. Therefore a caregiver must create a safe environment for seniors that engage the mind and stimulate the senses.
One of the most effective methods of doing this is through simple daily fun activities. These activities can range from daily walks around the block, to going to the zoo every other week. However, one of the most effective activities enjoyed by elderly clients is arts and crafts. Because arts and crafts can be done together, the bond between caregiver and client can grow significantly stronger.
While there are literally thousands of craft projects available, here are five that have had phenomenal success:
Personalized Clay Pots
This craft project in particular is fairly inexpensive and requires very little in the way of materials. All that is needed is a few terra cotta pots, which can be purchased at practically any craft store or garden shop, and some painting supplies. From there, the imagination takes over. The pots can be painted and personalized in a variety of ways, creating a safe portal for creativity and self-expression. Upon completion, the pots can be used to plant flowers or even wrapped up as gifts for loved ones.
Fun with Food
For the most part, food usually isn’t considered a traditional medium for arts and crafts. However, you may be surprised at the nearly endless number of projects that can be erected using food. From fancy cookie cutters to custom cake pans, the possibilities are only limited by imagination. One of the most popular activities involves making a bouquet of strawberries. The strawberries can be dipped in chocolate, accented with candy or other fruit, and arranged in a bouquet, creating an elegant display that is not only unique and creative, but tasty too!
With so many holidays occurring throughout the year, there really isn’t a bad time to enjoy this particular craft. Centerpieces are creative displays that usually sit in the middle of a dining-room table. Acting primarily as aesthetic beauty, a centerpiece can be made from just about anything including, candles, flowers, baskets, artificial fruit, and so and so forth. These items can be decorated using paint, floral arrangements, ribbons, twine, beads and so much more. And because centerpieces are largely used on holidays, this creates the perfect opportunity for family and friends to admire the creativity and hard work that went into making it, boosting morale and self-esteem.
As simple as it may sound, collages are actually highly effective in engaging an elderly client’s deeper emotions. A collage can be made from decorative typeface, magazine cutouts, and random objects. You can take it one step further by incorporating photographs or even snapping new pictures if you have access to a camera. Upon completion, the collage can be framed and hung up for all to admire.
While this project is very traditional, it remains a staple in the crafting world. However, building a birdhouse can is a more complex endeavor as several tools are needed as well as wood (or some other building medium). From there, the birdhouse can be designed, built, and installed by working together. It is important to keep in mind though that some clients may not be in a position to handle certain tools safely. If this is the case, the dangerous aspects of the build can be handled by the caregiver, or the birdhouse can be constructed using a safer medium such as paper mache or cardboard.
An easy and fun craft for seniors is working with polymer clay. Even those with limited dexterity can generally mold the clay without difficulty.
For seniors with an interest in photography, taking the pictures is fun, but knowing how to incorporate them into crafts is even more fun. Whether the photographs are of friends and family, the beauty of nature or cats and dogs, making a collage or scrapbook will incorporate the photographs into the finished a product.
Many seniors find that creating mosaics can be a great pastime. They can work with small or large pieces, depending upon their level of dexterity as well as their eyesight. The mosaic can be a planned design, or it can simply be a colorful abstract.
Mosaic projects that seniors enjoy making often include Flowerpots, Picture frames, Mirror frames, Small tabletops, Trivets, and Garden stepping stones
Making or designing their beads can be a very rewarding experience. Seniors can keep it simple or make as complex as they wish. Provide them with plain wooden beads of various sizes and shapes, and stain or paint for the crafters to create their own colors and designs before they begin beading more complex necklaces or bracelets.
One-stroke painting is one of the easiest, most relaxing and creative past time for many seniors. It is a technique in which the artist loads the paintbrush with more than one color at a time to create a three-dimensional effect with each simple brush stroke. It works well for decorative crafts such as painting mailboxes, plates and beautiful highlights for murals and easel work.
Making a gift basket is easy and they make very satisfying senior activity ideas. These can be made individually or done in groups such as for silent auctions, fund raising or a group gift such as birthday, anniversary. Perfect for tucking in a keepsake, you can get many donated items if your baskets are for a fund raiser; or have other bring in items from home.
You will need a pot, soil, and seeds for this craft for seniors. Let them plant whatever item they would like, such as tomatoes or flowers, in the pot. Allow the plant to stay in a general area until summer time when it can be planted outdoors.
Whether you’re dealing with one person or a group, seniors will want to have a say in what arts and crafts projects they do. Unlike dealing with children, seniors are likely to have stronger preferences when it comes to what they find interesting, challenging and enjoyable. Open a dialogue and try to figure out what arts and crafts projects the person or group you’re working with would be interested in. Paper crafts or embroidery may be interesting for some, while others may prefer to make a scrapbook, draw a sketch or make a watercolor painting instead.
Arts and crafts activities are beneficial for seniors with all stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, but you’ll need to pick the right activities. Try doing activities that can be done in short periods of time and then stopped if necessary, and avoid activities that require those you’re working with to concentrate for long periods of time, which could be difficult for them.