Creativity is an important and valuable part of human expression. It helps you to make sense of the world around you, explore your thoughts and emotions, and to communicate them with others. Crafting can be beneficial for people of any age, from children to seniors, but it becomes even more important as you grow older, which is why we wanted to discuss crafting for older adults here on WayWiser.
As you age, your mobility can become more restricted than it was in your younger years. This often means that you cannot participate in some of the activities that you once did. However, crafting can give you a lot of satisfaction even if your mobility is limited.
Participating in arts and crafts has significant physical and psychological benefits for older adults. In this article, we will explore these benefits and then take a look at some fun ideas for crafting projects.
The Physical Benefits of Crafting for Older Adults
Whether you’re painting a picture, crocheting a blanket, or making a birdhouse, crafting has major physical benefits for seniors. These include:
- Stimulating the brain: When you’re working on a craft project, whatever it is, it keeps your brain stimulated. Believe it or not, this can help to reduce your risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, such as memory loss by up to 50%.
- Improving dexterity: Crafting can improve your fine motor skills. These skills involve your ability to make movements by utilizing the small muscles in your wrists and hands. Muscles that you rely on daily for activities such as eating, writing, and dressing.
- Improving circulation: Poor circulation in your hands can make it difficult to move them and can have a negative impact on your dexterity. When you are using your hands in a crafting activity, it increases blood flow throughout your fingers, hands, wrists, and arms.
- Reducing hypertension: Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, becomes increasingly common as you age. It can lead to hardening of the arteries, heart attack, and stroke. Crafting can lower your blood pressure because as you focus on your activity, your breathing slows, you become more relaxed, and your blood pressure lowers.
- Providing pain relief: Working on a craft project can become very absorbing. This means that it can take your mind off even persistent pain, providing you with welcome relief.
- Reducing stress: Stress and anxiety are leading health problems in the U.S. Chronic stress can lead to early memory loss, confusion, inability to focus, heart problems, and migraines. Crafting can help minimize stress in your daily life.
- Strengthening the immune system: Stress can also weaken your immune system, making you vulnerable to disease and infection. Because crafting reduces stress, it can also give your immune system a boost.
- Helping with insomnia: Inability to sleep at night or frequent waking can leave you feeling exhausted, confused, and irritable. It can also harm your overall health. Research has shown that participating in a craft activity, such as knitting can dramatically improve your sleep by helping your wind down before you go to bed.
While crafting may not be on your doctor’s list of recommended treatments, it’s a fun and easy way to improve your health. But being creative has even more benefits.
The Therapeutic Benefits of Crafting
You’ve already seen the amazing benefits crating has on your physical health, but it can also help to improve your mental and emotional health. Here’s how:
- Preventing depression: When you are crafting, you relax, focus on your project at hand, and shut everything else out of your mind. It’s rather like meditating and has the same benefits. One of these is reducing your risk of depression. It does so by releasing a chemical in your brain called dopamine – your body’s natural anti-depressant. Dopamine also makes you feel happy.
- Improving self–esteem: When you have completed a craft project you can look at your accomplishment with pride. It boosts your self-esteem and when your end result is admired by others, it also makes you feel appreciated.
- Reducing restlessness and irritability: If you’re feeling grumpy, turning to your favorite craft can give you an outlet to keep your mood balanced.
- Helping to process grief: When you have lost a loved one or close friend, feelings of loss are inescapable. At times you may feel as though you will never feel better. During these times, crafting can take your mind off your sadness, and provide a source of comfort and even nostalgia that can help you through the grieving process.
- Building bonds of friendship: Crafting is even more fun when it involves a shared project. Whether you are doing something creative with family or friends, it’s always good to have a supportive network around you, not to mention that staying connected is a key attribute in aging gracefully and staying protected from exploitation.
11 Crafting Ideas for Older Adults
If you are new to crafting, or you want to try something new, here are a few ideas to stir your imagination.
DIY Holiday Wreath
Making a holiday wreath is a fun project whatever the season, whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, or you just feel like being decorative. This is also a very versatile crafting project, that you can make as simple or detailed as you like. Here are a few ideas for different themed wreaths. All you need is a wire or cardboard frame and then you can build on it with the materials of your choice.
- Christmas wreath: Use pine trimmings and pinecones to wrap your frame. Make the wreath more festive by adding fake snow, glitter, and baubles.
- Thanksgiving wreath: Dried flowers and grasses make an excellent base for a Thanksgiving wreath. You can also add cut-out turkeys, feathers, and ribbons.
- Halloween wreath: Whatever your age, Halloween can still be fun. You can wrap your frame with orange and brown fabric or wood. Add cut-out pumpkins, ghosts, and autumn leaves for extra color.
Crafting Bath Salts
Who doesn’t love a relaxing soak in the tub? The basis of homemade bath salts is Epsom salts. Adding Epsom salts to your bath has numerous benefits including easing sore joints and muscles, alleviating stress, relaxing sore feet, and soothing irritated skin. You can also include drops of essential oils for the following added benefits:
- Lavender: will help you relax and sleep better
- Ylang Ylang: will relieve muscle tension
- Geranium: will lift your mood
- Roman Chamomile: will help with insomnia and anxiety
- Rosemary: will relieve muscle aches and tension
Homemade Photo Frames
While digital photography has become the norm these days, many older adults have a collection of photographs from their younger days. Having photos on display can help you hold on to those treasured memories, remind you of your loved ones, and take you back to those special places you visited in the past.
When it comes to making homemade photo frames you can really go to town. The easiest way to make one is to take an old frame and get crafty with it. Turn it into your own personal project by jazzing up the frame with the following items:
- Buttons or beads
- Fabric or wool
- Dried flowers
- Gold leave or glitter paint
- Twigs or wooden chips
- Glass tiles
- Mirror or ceramic pieces
Decoupage is the art of decorating things with paper cutouts. The sky is the limit with this craft activity because you can decorate just about anything and that is why its one of our favorite crafting ideas for older adults. For example, photo frames, a tea tray, a wooden box, a table, and plant pots. You can turn a well-used item into something new and exciting. Decoupage is also great for making gifts.
You can source paper cutouts from old magazines or travel brochures, photographs, food packaging labels, and catalogs. You can also find vintage images and cutouts online or at your local craft store. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to cover and you have your cutouts, all you need is a brush, some Mod Podge, and a few hours of free time.
If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, clay sculpting can be loads of fun. It’s also very relaxing which makes it such good crafting for older adults. The best clay to use is air drying clay because it doesn’t need baking in a kiln. It versatile and durable and you can buy it in different colors or by white clay and add colors to it. You can also paint your creation with tempura or acrylic paint and add a coat of sealant to protect it. Once you start molding the clay in your hands, you’ll feel many of the health benefits listed above.
Crafting with clay also has many possibilities. Try your hand at some of these ideas:
- small pot or bowl
- broach or pendant
- essential oil diffuser
- animal or figure model
- fridge magnets
- wind chime
Making orange and clove pomanders is a simple craft for older adults that gives great rewards. All you need is a couple of firm oranges, a jar of whole cloves, and some ribbon. Use a toothpick to make holes in the oranges wherever you want to place the cloves. You can cover the orange or make a pattern. As the orange dries it will release the wonderful aroma of citrus and cloves.
You can hang your orange by running a wire through the fruit and knotting the bottom and looping the top. Alternatively, you can tie a bright-colored ribbon around the orange to hang in. You can also tie on some cinnamon sticks to add to the scent. It makes a great holiday decoration. You can also hang it in your closet to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
Scrapbooking can be fun at any age, but as you get older it can not only have health benefits but also create memories you can treasure and pass on to future generations. For some people, it can be difficult to hold onto memories as they age. But creating a scrapbook with old photos, swatches of fabric from favorite clothes, ticket stubs, and other memorabilia can be a wonderful way to help bring back treasured memories.
Working on a scrapbook is also emotionally fulfilling, especially when you are doing it will a loved one. Shared scrapbooking can also be a great way to bond with elder family members or to strengthen bonds between a senior person and a caregiver. As well as strengthening the memory, scrapbooking also helps to maintain manual dexterity and gives a sense of accomplishment.
Painting and Coloring
You don’t have to be a Van Gogh or a Renoir to enjoy painting. You can still have fun with paint whether you’re creating a self-portrait or an abstract canvas. If you’re not feeling quite confident enough yet to put brush to canvas, why not try paint by numbers? Paint-by-number kits can be bought online or at your local hobby store. They are a great way to enjoy painting because they allow you to develop your creativity as you go.
You can also make painting into a social event with a paint and sip evening with a bottle of wine and a group of friends. Decide beforehand on a subject or theme or watch one of the many paint and sip videos online and paint along with an artist.
Adult coloring books are all the rage. There are so many themes to choose from, including mandalas, animals, people, and flowers. And your mediums are not limited either. Crayons, colored pencils, gel pens, and felt pens are all great for a few hours of relaxation with a coloring book. It’s a great way to relieve anxiety and unwind before bed and perfect idea when seeking ideas about crafting for older adults.
Creating DIY mason jar luminaries is a truly enjoyable craft that has lasting rewards. It can be done time and time again, does not necessarily require a lot of dexterity, and is a great craft for all seasons. The basic materials are mason jars (minus the lid) and tea light candles. How you make the design your own is entirely up to you. Here are some ideas:
- Christmas luminary: Coat the outside of the jar with fake snow and tie on a spring of holly or mistletoe.
- Halloween luminary: Paint or paste ghosts, pumpkins, and cauldrons on the jar. Tie on a couple of small bats to add to the effect.
- Decoupage luminary: Cut pictures from your favorite magazines and paste them to the outside of the jar.
- Stained glass luminary: use watercolor paints to create a design on the outside of the jar.
Crafting with Kits
There are two main benefits of crafting kits. One is that everything you need is right there at hand. The other is that there are crafting kits available that both men and women can enjoy. And you might be surprised to know just how varied craft kits are. You can make anything from paper flowers to model sports cars, Hollywood figures to dolls’ houses, and model boats and planes, to rugs and jewelry.
The cost of craft kits obviously varies depending on the materials and complexity of the kit, but the important thing is that they can provide hours of fun and relaxation wherever you are. What’s more, you can admire the results for years to come. They also make great gifts to pass on to younger family members.
11. Sewing, Knitting, and Crochet
The great thing about sewing, knitting, and crochet, is that they can be done sitting in your favorite chair. You can even enjoy doing them outside if the weather is pleasant. If you prefer a short-term project, you might consider embroidering a small tapestry, or crocheting a toy, or knitting some socks. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you may want to knit a sweater, embark on a large scenic tapestry, or crochet a blanket.
These crafts not only improve manual dexterity, but they are also very relaxing, good for relieving anxiety, and can help reduce insomnia. What’s more, they also allow you to work with a wide variety of colors and textures that are cheerful and emotionally satisfying.
Carry on Crafting
Finding an interest in one or more new crafts as you grow older brings significant rewards. Using your creativity boosts your mental faculties, helps to maintain your emotional and mental health and increases your self-esteem. It can also improve fine motor skills and give you a great opportunity for socializing and making new friends. So what are you waiting for? With a broad range of activities to choose from, there’s bound to be one to suit you or someone you are caring for.