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People with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that affects memory and, in time, basic daily functioning, have the same emotional needs as everyone else. It can be intensely frustrating and disorienting to lose one’s abilities. Luckily, simple, soothing activities can offer a respite from the difficulties of navigating the world, providing both pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. The key is finding pastimes that are engaging but not distressingly challenging. If you have someone in your life with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, consider one or more of these art and craft offerings specially designed for them.
1. Natural World Aquapaint
This innovative product reveals a colorful image through the simple application of water. Four of the five included designs are of animals and the fifth is a bright blue butterfly. The set was designed by Ben Atkinson-Willes, who noticed a lack of available activities geared toward the distinct needs of Alzheimer’s patients. Aquapainting not only allows a person to use a paintbrush to easily create a beautiful image, but also is 100 percent reusable: It reverts back to a blank page with just an outline of the image visible after drying. This easy activity is great for patients in mid-late stages of the disease.
2. Do A Dot Art! Rainbow Dot Markers
If you’re a bingo fiend, you’ll likely recognize dot art markers, which are essentially the same as bingo daubers. These innovative implements are a mix of marker, paint, and stamp, leaving a bright circle of color on artwork. They’re excellent for advanced patients experiencing diminished fine motor skills, for whom coloring and painting can quickly become a negative experience. These daubers reintroduce the possibility of both making original artwork and calmly filling in coloring pages. There are plenty of worksheets available online specifically for dot markers that can keep your friend or loved one engaged.
3. Color Your Mind Coloring Book
For a coloring book geared more toward those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, Color Your Mind is a unique and effective option. Created by Maria Shriver, who has made the disease one of her personal causes, it contains the same conversational voice that has landed Shriver on the bestseller list. It’s more of a workbook with coloring pages than a standard coloring book, with tips and prompts about nutrition, exercise, and social connection—basic areas of focus that researchers believe can slow the disease’s progress.
4. Impresa Products Foam Grip Tubing
Some Alzheimer’s patients, especially as the disease advances, experience debilitating physical symptoms that affect their ability to complete daily tasks like brushing teeth and using eating utensils. These foam grips can make those tasks easier, but they can also be useful in helping patients manipulate pens, markers, knitting needles, paintbrushes, and more. This pack of six tubes come with small, medium, and large openings. They measure 12 inches long but can easily be cut down as needed.
5. Kensington Press Colouring Book for Adults With Dementia
Coloring books are having a moment as a mindfulness tool, and for good reason—coloring is a calming and rewarding activity that keeps the hands busy and allows the brain to slow down. It’s a rewarding practice for those with Alzheimer’s disease as well and can be a wonderful way to pass time alone or in a shared activity. This coloring book from Kensington Press goes a step further than most by providing designs that are formulated to spark memories—general images like a woman gardening or a plate of food. Not all will connect with your loved one, but this book contains a good diversity of pictures to increase the opportunities for remembering.