At Autumn View Gardens in St. Louis, Missouri, we give our residents plenty of opportunities to enjoy their favorite hobbies. Whether you prefer indoor activities or just can't make it outside due to bad weather, one great way to pass the time is to do crafts and engage in other hands-on activities. Crafting is fun, and it has several benefits for anyone who needs memory care. The next time you have some free time, keep these benefits of crafting and other hands-on activities in mind.
Alexandra Sifferlin of Time magazine reports that creative activities may delay the development of memory problems in older adults. In a study of 256 adults between the ages of 85 and 89 years old, people who engaged in painting, drawing and other artistic activities were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than people who didn't. Participants who engaged in hands-on activities like quilting and woodworking were 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.
Crafting and other creative activities may also be beneficial for people who already have some type of memory loss. According to the American Art Therapy Association, some individuals with dementia benefit from using paints, brushes and other art supplies to express their emotions. Even if they don't communicate verbally, they can use drawing, painting and other artistic activities to communicate with others. Arts and crafts may also help older adults retrain their memories, improving their quality of life.
Hands-on activities also have the potential to help you sleep better at night. In an article published in Academic Medicine, Lisa Dittrich explains that repetitive muscular activity may reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a more relaxed state. Dittrich cites knitting as an example of a repetitive activity that may improve your sleep quality. All knitting patterns use just two stitches, making it easy to get into "the zone" even when you're working on a complex project. As a result, knitting before bed may help you fall asleep faster.
Crafts and other hands-on activities give you the opportunity to increase your self-esteem by gaining confidence in your abilities. Painting, drawing, knitting, sewing, quilting and other activities all require you to develop a new set of skills. For example, quilting requires the ability to read complex patterns, sew the fabric together and add borders, among other skills. Mastering these skills over time can give your confidence a real boost, leading to increased self-esteem and a stronger sense of self-worth.
Too much stress can have serious effects on the mind and body. When you're stressed out, you may experience anxiety, restlessness, sadness, irritability and a lack of motivation. As a result, you may engage in behaviors that put your health at risk, such as smoking, drinking too much, not getting enough exercise or withdrawing from your normal social activities.
Stress also takes a toll on your physical health, resulting in sleep problems, muscle tension, fatigue, headaches and upset stomach. Crafting and other hands-on activities can be used as a form of meditation, giving you a chance to blow off steam before stress causes serious problems.
No matter how much you love your assisted living apartment, it's important to get out and socialize from time to time. If you're tired of eating out or going to the movies, crafting creates plenty of opportunities for socialization. Whether you gather in the library of your assisted living community or attend an off-site crafting class in St. Louis, you'll meet other people who share your interests. While you piece together a quilt, sew a pillow or work on a painting, you'll also be able to chat and build new relationships. If you need a week off to recover from an illness or travel out of town, you can even set up an online crafting session to stay in touch with your new friends.
Grief over the loss of a loved one isn't something that goes away overnight. If you're grieving, it can be tempting to stay in your assisted living apartment instead of getting together with friends, but that can lead to isolation and depression. Crafting can help you process your grief on your own terms, helping you heal as you learn how to navigate life without your loved one. You can even pick a craft that honors the memory of your loved one, such as a quilt made from their T-shirts or a pillow with their picture on it.
Doing crafts and other hands-on activities may even help improve your fine motor skills, which are the skills involved in using the small muscles in your wrists and hands. You use your fine motor skills to brush your teeth, turn keys in locks, fasten the button on your pants and plug in electrical cords, among many other activities. Crafts requiring the use of needles, hooks, brushes and other tools may strengthen the small muscles in your wrists and hands, enhancing your fine motor skills.