Are you looking for a fun way to spend your time and create something which can be shared and enjoyed by those you love? Perhaps you’re giving a senior citizen in your life a hand in coming up with some crafting ideas that will have them tapping into their creativity, finding new interests and using their hands, all while having a great time? Crafting is suitable for all ages and ability levels and is a fantastic activity for senior citizens – especially those seniors living with dementia or impaired mobility.
Arts and crafts are not just good fun, they can also offer a number of important benefits for senior citizens. A study by the Journal of Aging Studies found that creativity is a key component in finding a sense of purpose in later life – which, the study indicates, is the key to ageing successfully.
“Artistic creativity also facilitates successful [ageing] by encouraging the development of problem-solving skills, motivation, and perceptions that translate into a practical creativity in the way these individuals manage their everyday lives.” – Successful Aging and Creativity in Later Life, Journal of Aging Studies
Importantly, art and craft projects and other activities which give the brain a workout offer some proven health benefits for older adults, including improved memory and a reduction in the risk of mild cognitive impairment.
At Care For Family, we understand that getting older means changes in our bodies, activity levels, and mobility, but that doesn’t mean a loss of interest in being creative! No matter your interests (or those of the senior citizen in your life) or level of ability, there is an art or craft project to suit. We’ve put together a list of the best craft ideas for senior citizens, encompassing a range of interests and skill levels.
Painting is a beloved pastime of many senior citizens and can be enjoyed by those with limited mobility, and even those living with dementia or other cognitive impairments.
Even if you’ve never painted before, painting is a wonderful way to flex your creative muscles and create something truly unique. Finished paintings also make great gifts for loved ones or decorations for the home. Here are a few painting projects for seniors who are beginners, which you or your loved one might like to try.
Painted rocks make great gifts for little ones (did you have a pet rock as a child?) and are fun and easy to create. Use water-based paints for those rocks which will be kept indoors or acrylic paints for those which will sit outdoors amongst the garden. You can even involve the grandkids in these projects and create a whole family of painted rocks. Check out these great painted rock collections on Pinterest.
If you fancy yourself a bit of a Da Vinci, or perhaps a Picasso, you might like to try your hand at creating a painted canvas which can be hung on the wall of your home or gifted for a special occasion. All you’ll need to get started is a blank canvas which can be bought from your local craft store, and some acrylic or watercolour paints.
The beauty of painting on canvas is that your design can be as lifelike or abstract as you like. Bright colours and abstract designs make a great addition to your walls and add a splash of colour to the home. If you need a little bit of help in coming up with a design, try one of these seniors painting ideas.
Perhaps you have a gardener in your life? Painted pots for indoor and outdoor garden plants are a fun, creative and simple craft activity, and are great gift ideas. Painting on terracotta pots is very easy to do. Simply choose a waterproof paint, and then stencil your design on with a pencil before beginning your masterpiece. Painting is also great for herb pots, and you can create fun labels for each variety of herb – giving your garden, or that of your loved one, a real creative flair. Once you’ve painted all the pots the garden can handle, you might even like to try painting tea light candle holders. Leftover jam jars make great candle holders, and when painted, give the home a warm, coloured glow.
Knitting, sewing and more...
Knitting and sewing are not only very relaxing because they can be done from the comfort of a favourite armchair, but they’re also great winter crafts for gifting in those chillier months. For hands that aren’t quite as nimble as they used to be, not to worry! There are plenty of knitting and sewing craft ideas for senior citizens which are suitable even for those with more limited dexterity.
Scarf knitting is a project for all knitters, from advanced to beginner level. It’s also a great way to get creative by experimenting with colours and designs. For those knitters who might experience some difficulty in holding traditional knitting needles, larger needles and higher gauge yarn can be used to make things more manageable. Once you’re confident in your knitting ability, you might even like to move on to more complex designs such as hot water bottle covers, tea cosies, and even jumpers and blankets.
Knitting can also be a wonderful way to give back to the community! Some charities in Australia happily accept knitted items, including some dog and cat shelters during the winter, and the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, who accept knitted items for the families of premature babies.
Embroidery is a long-held pastime for seniors, and embroidered items can be passed down from generation to generation as treasured family heirlooms. Embroidery can be done on a plain white cloth, to create a hangable picture, or on other household items such as pillowcases, table runners, or even teddy bears for the younger members of the family. If you’ve never tried your hand at embroidery before, don’t let that put you off! Watch this video for some simple tips on learning the 7 basic stitches you’ll need, and before you know it, you’ll be stitching up a storm.
Gifting and holiday crafts
Of course, there’s no better time to take on an art and craft project than during the holidays. You can make beautiful gifts for friends and family, or even decorate cards, wrapping paper, or the Christmas tree. Here are just a few of the many gifting and holiday craft ideas for senior citizens.
Making cards is inexpensive and adds a real personal touch to your Christmas, Valentines’ Day, or birthday gifts. All you’ll need to get started are some coloured cardboard or paper sheets, some scissors (if the senior in your life is living with dementia or limited dexterity, safety scissors can be found at any craft store), and some extra elements such as glitter, glue and stickers. You’ll find all of these items at your craft store or local newsagent. Here’s a good cardmaking video for beginners, to help you with some inspiration.
Festive season crafts
When it comes to decorating the Christmas tree, there are almost limitless art and craft options available. From creating photo cube hanging ornaments to pom poms (made from yarn, or even coffee filters!), the Christmas tree’s all-important star, and even hand-made Christmas crackers - Christmas crafts are huge fun for the whole family and give a truly unique touch to the festive season. For easy crafts that the kids can get involved with, try a snow globe made within a mason jar. All you need is a jar (use an old jam jar or buy a mason jar from your craft or kitchen supply store), some glitter, filtered water, and your central ornament, which will be stuck inside the lid.
There are countless craft ideas for senior citizens, which can help you or your senior loved one to get creative, have loads of fun, and even give the mind a much-needed workout. Our favourite places for finding new arts and crafts for seniors include Pinterest, house and garden magazines you can find at your newsagent or supermarket and DIY shows like Better Homes and Gardens.
What’s your favourite place to find new arts and crafts ideas?
Our care professionals at Care For Family would love to hear your top tips the next time they see you!