Alzheimer’s crafts

My Mom is in a nursing home. Physically she is fine but her short term memory is poor.

A visit with my Mom consisted of answering:

  • How have you been? 5 times.
  • What have you been doing? 8 times.
  • Where are you going after this? 4 times.
  • How is “what’s his name?” 3 times (she knows I have a husband but after that she is clueless).
  • How are the kids? 5 times. (She knows she has Grandkids and she knows I am responsible for 2 of them but she has no idea which 2).

My mother is a very sweet, loving person. She is witty and always makes me laugh.

However, after about 10 minutes of answering the same questions again and again, I want to run for the door.

So a great solution for me was to volunteer there teaching (okay, that word is a stretch) arts and crafts. That way I get to spend quality time with my Mom and not have to answer questions repeatedly.

When I first signed up, I had no idea what kind of crafts they could do. So I went online and did a search for craft books for the elderly.  There were none.

I did come up with some craft books for kids that I thought might work. However, kids and grownups are totally different.

For one thing, not only can grownups usually still spell and read, they should be encouraged to use these skills or they will lose them.

Another difference is, kids can be taught. Grownups already know all they are going to know and the skills that they still have need to be stimulated. Kids can remember from one week to the next. With these adults, a 2 week project is not recommended. The 2nd week you will have to start from scratch.

Also, I try and find crafts that are not demeaning. After all, these are adults.

I try and gear my projects around the current season or holiday. This helps them to know what time of year it is. Since my projects are always different, it stimulates their minds and gives them something to look forward to. They always ask “what are we doing next week?” I am always surprised by this since they have a hard time staying focused on the current project. But this is a real boost to my ego that they are looking forward to our next session.

Most of the residents coming out of the cafeteria can’t tell you what they just had for lunch. But, surprisingly, the following week I hear remarks like, “You showed us that last week”

I am hoping that by publishing my crafts, it will encourage other crafters to volunteer at their local nursing home. Eventually I would like to write a book but right now I am kept pretty busy coming up with weekly crafts.

I try and do crafts that are useful. We have done eyeglass cases, tissue box covers, lots of jewelry. They love beading. Large plastic beads on heavy cord. Whenever I don’t have  a new project ready, we bead. Last week we made beaded cords to hold their eye glasses.

A lot of their projects go in the fair. This is a big deal for them and this year they won lots of blue ribbons. If they win a ribbon they get a couple of bucks.

A recent project was shell creatures. I go to thrift stores and yard sales and when I had accumulated enough shells we made these creatures. They laid them out on foamcore boards and we did the hot gluing. I have recruited other relatives of residents to come and help on craft day.

Here is a sample project.



  • Greeting cards, unused from thrift store
  • Or card stock
  • Or blank greeting cards


If using card stock, score down the middle lengthwise and fold in half.

You can print out some sayings, cut them square and glue them to the inside.
You can buy a book of verses or copy from old cards.
Or use a rubber stamp to stamp Happy Birthday.
If using blank greeting cards, complete the inside as above.
I found these greeting cards that had ribbons and flowers printed. I simply copied the shapes onto felt and cut them out.

If you do quilling, have some them ready to be glued. Any scraps of embroidery or such you have laying around.

They do:

  • Glue felt and other embellishments.
  • Glue or stamp saying inside if card is blank.
  • Cut a window and glue a picture underneath.
  • Sea Creatures


Tools and Materials:

  • Glue Gun
  • Ceramic paste or waterproof glue
  • Baby food jars or small jelly jars with caps
  • Various plastic or other waterproof figurines Aquarian toys, resin. Collect these from yard sales and thrift store, child’s toy box.
  • Silver Glitter, White flakes.
  • Foam Aquarian shapes with sparkles.

They do:

In jar cap put a layer of ceramic plastic. Make it rough like water. Stick the figurine in the center. You want a layer of past so figurine sits up high so he won’t be hidden by rim. Let it dry.

Paint the water blue. Let dry.

Fill jar with water, flakes and/or glitter. I glued some aquatic foam shapes to side of jar. I tried them loose but they just floated.  Screw the cap on the jar and audition it. If you are happy with it, Turn jar upside down, remove cap, glue cap to jar.
If you have little plastic charms from gumball machine, throw them in.
Optional: glue ribbon around jar rim. I glued large blue rickrack to look like waves.
Turn over and shake.
You can, of course, do this in different themes. First find a figurine that will fit in jar and build a theme around that.

Also I am attaching some pics.