Friday, 30 December 2016

Seasonal Crafts - Art Therapy for those with Alzheimer's

My mum has unfortunately lost all track of time ... as she's not aware of the month, I try to keep our arts and crafts seasonal so she is really living in and enjoying the time of year ...


Daffodils are my mum's favourite flower. We go for walks at the local arboretum to enjoy the Spring flowers ... 

... then we make our own daffodils out of crepe-paper :) to brighten up her home and bring the season indoors!


Mum loves the brightly coloured summer flowers that we find in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside ...

... summer flowers inspire us to make brightly coloured crepe paper flowers :) 
Mum loves to always have flowers ready to give to anyone who visits!

If you would like to know how we make these flowers you can find the instructions on our Making Paper Flowers Blog :)


We take trips out to the forest to enjoy the autumn colours and collect leaves to press for cards ...

Using a flower press we position our clean, dry leaves between the absorbent sheets of blotting paper, screw the wooden press together and leave for about 4 weeks.

The pressed leaves can then be used to make attractive seasonal cards.


Christmas is such a lovely time of year!! I make sure Christmas music is always in the background while we are working on our crafts ... 

Decorations ...
This year we painted glitter-glue onto wooden tree decorations and sprinkled on extra glitter. My mum loves anything shiny and glitter glue is easy for her to paint on to the decorations.

Christmas cards ... 
Meaningful activities such as card making really give my mum a sense of achievement. Making cards to send to friends & family is one of her favourite hobbies.

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New Year

No sooner is Christmas over we start on the next event! 
This year mum has made some lovely Happy New Year cards!! 

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For more details on our Hand Made cards please visit our Hand Made Cards blog

I believe that keeping my mum engaged and active is very important to her quality of life. 

There are many benefits to Creative Therapy. 
Unlike traditional art expression, the process of creation is more important than the final product. Arts and Crafts help with hand & eye coordination, focus and concentration. They also seem to lessen my mum's fidgeting and anxiety and definitely give her a great feeling of accomplishment.

Art Therapy is a very important part of our daily routine and I combine it with Music Therapy and Animal Therapy which I also believe are hugely beneficial to my mum's well being. 

For more of our photos and videos of our alternative therapies please have a look at my other blog posts and our Creative Carer Facebook Page or website Creative Carer .

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Hand Made Cards - Art Therapy for those with Alzheimer's

Research has shown that meaningful activities can be enjoyable and stimulating for both carers and people with dementia at all stages of the condition. 

Taking part in activities based on the interests and abilities of the person with dementia can significantly increase their well-being and quality of life.

My mum has always been creative. One of her favourite hobbies is card making and despite her Alzheimer's, she is still able to make beautiful hand made cards.

Being an animal lover, she particularly enjoys making animal cards ... especially cards with cats on them!

Unable to draw out the cat shapes on her own now, I make her a template and off she goes!

She loves pretty colours and patterns and makes her cats beautiful bows that she decorates with jewels.

There are many benefits to this type of Art Therapy. 

  • Cutting out designs helps with hand / eye coordination
  • Sticking down shapes aids focus and concentration
  • Encourages self expression
  • Lessens anxiety and fidgeting
  • Provides a sense of accomplishment
And of course the pleasure of a creative activity that we do together also brings lots of conversation and lots of laughing!

Pretty patterned paper and bright jewels stimulate my mum's imagination.

She loves the fact that we make things together ... she says we are a "team" and insists that both our names on the back of her cards.
My mum is so proud of her cats! And so am I!!!

Making cards gives her a real purpose ... she loves to give them to friends and family for Birthdays and to the doctors and nurses as Thank You cards! 
Soon it will be time to make all our Christmas cards!!!

The Alzheimer's Society has long promoted the benefits of arts and crafts as a way to help people with dementia live well and have a better quality of life.

Crafts are a big part of my mum's life and I will make sure that they continue to be so for as long as possible! 

For more photos and creative ideas please visit our facebook page.
LIKE the page to keep up to date with our arts & crafts.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Jigsaw Puzzles - Another Creative Therapy for those with Alzheimer's

Creating a picture with puzzle is another form of Art Therapy. 
Jigsaw puzzles are a therapeutic activity that has been proved to stimulate memory and improve brain function in people with dementia.
Puzzles exercise the brain as they stimulate both the left side, which is concerned with logic and sequence, and the right side, which serves for creative, intuitive and emotive thought.  

When piecing the parts together, the brain is working continuously in an intensive way which helps to exercise the brain cells and increase their efficiency.
The act of problem solving involves a huge range of skills such as:
  • Analysis – working out how pieces fit back together
  • Attention to detail – identifying small detail in the pieces
  • Categorising – arranging pieces into similar colours that go together
  • Comparison – identifying which pieces will/won’t fit into the same space
  • Comprehension – understanding the whole picture while working on a section
  • Concentration – focusing on the shapes/sizes etc 
  • Creativity – finding different ways to assess if the piece is correct
  • Eye/hand Coordination – using fine motor control to manipulate the pieces
  • Flexibility – the ability to switch to different areas when needed
  • Memory Retention – remembering where a piece won’t fit
  • Patience – keeping focused for long periods without giving up
  • Prioritising – deciding which area to do first
  • Problem-solving – finding answers to each area of difficulty
  • Reasoning – justifying your choices
  • Reviewing – taking stock of progress at various stages

Most of these cognitive skills can be affected in a detrimental way with the onset of a dementia such as Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that by regularly stimulating the brain with puzzles such as jigsaws, the brain's neurotransmitters are kept healthy and the natural ageing processes are slowed down.
Jigsaw puzzles are a great activity as they require no pre-planning - I make sure we have a puzzle on the table every day so my mum can work at it whenever she feels like it. We enjoy working on puzzles together but this is an activity that she is also happy to do on her own.
Puzzles are inexpensive if purchased from secondhand shops (charity shops) or 'used' from e-bay. 
We have around 30 puzzles now that we constantly rotate.It is important to choose the number of pieces the puzzle consists of carefully. A puzzle should not be too easy, nor should it be too hard. 
Puzzles need to provide a worthy challenge - if they are too easy and solved quickly they can be disappointing. However, puzzles that are too hard are discouraging; this is especially true for someone who is struggling with the effects of a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer's.
My mum was able to work on 500 pc puzzles up until last year, but she now finds 200 - 300 pc puzzles more enjoyable and anything more than that frustrates and upsets her.
There are puzzles from dementia shops online from 10 pcs + with a wide variety of pictures to choose from.
They are usually brightly coloured to visually stimulate and often of animals, flowers and scenes so they don't look like children's puzzles which I believe is very important.

My mum has always loved a challenge! 
Never to be beaten by anything she sometimes cuts the jigsaw pieces to fit :)
Then she realises they are meant for somewhere else 
... so our puzzles have lots of gaps :)

I'm very proud of her for doing this ... she has always taught me if you try hard enough, you can find a way around any problem!
As well as Mixed Dementia, my mum has osteoporosis 
and she suffers from neck pain which can be made worse by her crafts & bending over her puzzles. 
I have recently bought her a desk top easel and have glued down non slip matting to a cork board.
This works really well, my mum is now able to work on her puzzles without hurting her neck!! 

Jigsaw Puzzles offer my mum gentle, enjoyable stimulation - and there's nothing quite like that feeling of placing the last piece of the puzzle ... 

… such a wonderful achievement!!

For more photos and ideas please visit my facebook page

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Stone and Shell Craft - Art Therapy for those with Alzheimer's

Such a lovely craft ... inexpensive, easy to do and so so pretty!!

Art Therapy is such an important part of our life now! 
Since introducing arts & crafts into our daily routine over two years ago, I have found it has had great benefits for my mum. She is happier, less agitated and has a purpose to every day now. 
Our latest project is stone and shell craft and we have made some beautiful paper weights!!
We collect our stones from a local river ...

Then using different media ... acrylic paint, nail varnish and glitter we start to transform our stones!

We have also been decorating shells! 

My mum loves pretty things and she is in her element using glitter!
We have found glittered nail varnish is easiest for her to apply.
Felt tip pens can be used to create pretty patterns on the shells.

My mum is so proud of her creations and she loves to give them away ... to doctors, nurses, friends ... in fact anyone who admires them!!

I believe Art Therapy can definitely improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s. 
Art stimulates the brain, triggers memories and allows creative expression.
Every day we dedicate time to an art project with such positive results!

For more photos and ideas please visit my facebook page

LIKE the page to keep up to date with all our projects!