How Arts and Crafts Help Dementia Care Residents
Crafts can be used to provide therapeutic equipment for patients with dementia and as meaningful activities for them to enjoy.
In Newcastle, hospitals have introduced knitted comforters to dementia patients, to help to reduce the agitation and confusion that is often part of the condition. The comforters, knitted by teams of volunteers, take the form of hand muffs and knitted dolls. Being able to hold, examine and enjoy the texture and colour of these items has been shown to help patients to settle without using medicines that have potential side effects. Having a doll or hand muff to handle can often distract dementia care residents and prevent behaviours such as pulling out cannulae or removing dressings.
Arts and crafts
There are many arts and crafts that can be enjoyed by patients with different degrees of dementia. It is important that staff or carers who are helping in the craft sessions realise that the abilities of people with dementia can vary from day to day, so they will be able to complete crafts sometimes and not others.
Simple crafts that can guarantee good results often work best for residents in dementia care homes. Working with clay or play dough is very enjoyable, as residents can feel the texture and mould it however they like. It also provides a gentle workout for their hands and fingers without the residents even realising.
Painting can also be very therapeutic, and allows people to express themselves. Large bottles of watercolour paints are readily available and easy to use and mix. In these days of tablet computers, residents with dementia can also create pictures or patterns using art apps, allowing them the same kind of creativity without the risk of any mess.
Making scrapbooks is another popular occupation that can, in addition to giving the residents something physical to do, stimulate conversation between them. For example, images of animals might prompt people to recall their pets, or pictures of beaches could start a discussion about holidays they have enjoyed. In some care homes in Crawley, craft groups are combined with reminiscence sessions which are enjoyed by many people with dementia.
Activities for dementia care residents can involve tasks that they have engaged in before they were ill. Baking and flower arranging are often enjoyed and the finished results are something they can be proud of. Gardening is also popular and some care homes in Crawley have specially constructed raised beds that are easy for older people to work on. Growing some of their own vegetables can give people with dementia a real sense of achievement.
Some people with severe dementia will be unable to participate in all activities, but sorting buttons or beads into different sizes or colours can often be very absorbing and does not carry a risk of failure that might be disheartening.
Participating in arts and crafts activities can help to relax people with dementia, and give them a sense of their own worth.