Get Creative! 9 Crafts for Seniors to Express Their Creativity

Thanks to advancements in modern medicine we are an aging population. Last year, the population of people over 65 in America reached 52 million. But by 2030 this is set to increase to 67 million!

Fortunately, this rise in the senior population has led to vast improvements in the care of this generation. Amazing retirement communities are a great way for people to enjoy their later years. These communities host a huge variety of activities for their residents to participate in.

Some locations offer exercise classes to keep seniors active and social. Other group activities, like crafts for seniors, are great for encouraging creativity.

Whether they're doing crafts in a group or looking for a side project to keep busy, read on to find out some of the best artistic activities for the elderly.

What Are the Benefits of Crafts for Seniors?

Creative activities have a great benefit for anyone who pursues them, and senior citizens are no exception.

Crafts for the elderly give them an opportunity to focus on a task and take something away at the end of the session. This means they can enjoy the results of their work, which gives it a sense of purpose.

Because of this, creative activities can have a huge positive impact on seniors' mental health. It's a great way to manage feelings of anxiety or depression.

But a sense of purpose isn't the only thing that seniors gain from craft activities. These sessions also have a huge impact on their health and are an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Creative activities stimulate the brain and help to improve cognitive function. As a result, continuing to practice creative tasks can help to improve memory and combat the symptoms of dementia.

There is also a link between creative activities and a better immune system. Our immune systems often deteriorate as we get older, leaving us vulnerable to illnesses. So anything that works to combat this is definitely worth investing time in!

Speaking of physical health, craftwork is a great way to keep elderly residents dexterous. It gives them time to regularly focus on using their hands, something which they may otherwise neglect. And losing full use of your hands can contribute a sense of lost independence.

To really make the most of these benefits, crafts in assisted living need to offer residents a variety of things to try. This allows them to practice different skills and remain engaged with each activity. So let's take a look at some great ideas for craft activities for seniors.

1. Creating Suncatchers

It's great if activities in assisted living give the residents something to take back to their room and enjoy. Suncatchers are the perfect craft for this.

The artists can hang them in a window and enjoy them day after day without cluttering up their rooms. They'll even change in appearance every day depending on the weather.

Making suncatchers is simple and fun. It's also something that most residents will be able to do as it doesn't involve lots of fiddly work. For this you will need:

  • Some mason jar lids
  • Colored glass beads
  • Clear-dry glue
  • String 
  • Scissors
  • A pin or needle

To begin with, a resident should lay out their glass beads in the design of their choosing inside a jar lid. Then they simply have to douse the beads in glue. The glue should come up to the edges of the jar lid but not over the side.

Then they simply wait for the glue to dry. This can take a long time and it's important not to disturb the beads until the glue is fully set. So you may want to line up another activity for while they wait.

Once the glue is set they can turn out their suncatchers. It might help to have a popsicle stick or something similar to help pry them out. If the glue has fully set then they will be left with a beautiful suncatcher.

Then all they have to do is make a small hole with a pin and thread the string through so they can hang it up!

2. Knitting Projects with a Difference

Some older residents might resist knitting as a pastime. They may view this as a stereotypically 'old' activity. So engaging them in a project that will make a difference could give this craft a new lease on life. 

See if you can team up with a charity for a knitting project. Some charities really appreciate homemade blankets that they can send out to children in need. Getting a craft group together to create one of these could give residents a real sense of purpose in their creative work.

Or you could get in touch with a local hospital or baby care unit. These are often looking for donations of knitted squares to give to families whose newborns have to stay in hospital.

The parents take home a square, sleep with it in their bed and return it to the hospital for their baby to sleep with. This plays a vital role in the bonding experience between a parent and their child when they can't be with them.

And they're really simple to make! It's a great way to help the elderly feel like what they do is making a difference.

3. Painting Terracotta Pots

Plants bring life and vitality wherever they are. They're great for the health and wellbeing of everyone around them. So let residents get involved by designing and decorating their own terracotta pots!

Okay, maybe creating the pots from scratch might be a bit challenging (not to mention messy!). Instead, start them off with a pot and provide the materials to decorate them as they please. You could even provide several styles and colors of pots to choose from.

This is a great way for seniors to embark on a creative project with a twist. Unlike painting or drawing it gives them a physical base to work with.

The beauty of this activity is that it also creates a lovely decoration for a residential home as well. Residents could put their pots (complete with foliage, of course!) in their rooms. Or they could display them around the community areas.

This is a lovely way to make seniors feel like they have an impact on and control over their environment. It can really help them to settle in and make it feel like a home.

4. Homemade Photo Frames

What brightens a room up and makes it feel more personal than photos of family and friends? Not a lot, but residents can add an extra-personal touch by creating their own photo frames.

When it comes to this craft, there are no rules. You can use anything from paint to glitter to beads. You could even try out a traditional dried pasta frame!

Let residents really go to town on their creativity by providing them plenty of choices and letting them decide what they want to do. All they'll need is some strong glue and a photo frame base.

This is also a great activity to bring out on visiting days. It gives residents the opportunity to create something really personal with their friends and family. And it's suitable for people of all ages!

5. Coloring Books

Coloring books might sound simplistic in comparison to some of these other crafts. Nevertheless, they're a great activity to use to de-stress and relax.

For elderly residents, it's a good idea to opt for coloring books that come in larger prints so that everyone can use them easily.

Choose a selection of books to suit different residents' fancy. Some might prefer drawings of flowers, while others might like landscapes. Or you can let them pass the time completing an intricate pattern, which is extremely satisfying.

They can also use a variety of mediums for this craft. While coloring pencils are the traditional choices, you can broaden this selection by offering felt tips or fine liners. Let them mix and match to their hearts' content!

6. Watercolor Luminaries

Making luminaries is a lovely way to create unique and vibrant candle holders without breaking the bank.

The tools you'll need are simple. They include: 

  • Mason jars (varying sizes but all should be big enough to hold a tea light or alternative candle)
  • PVA glue 
  • Brushes
  • An assortment of tissue paper
  • Battery-powered tea lights (you can also use real tea lights, but these are safer to use in a residential home)

To start with, residents will need to pick a color scheme for their luminary from the different colored tissue paper. Then they need to rip up the paper into small pieces.

The nice thing about this craft is that it doesn't require lots of precision so it's easy for everyone to participate. If anyone struggles with ripping up the paper then you can help by doing it for them. Or you can skip this step by pre-ripping the paper and sorting it into bowls to pick from.

Once the paper is ready, it's time to start applying it to the jars. You'll need a decent amount of glue for this stage. Brush a thin layer onto the area of the jar that needs covering, apply the paper, and cover it with another coat of glue.

There are no rules when it comes to luminary design. Overlapping bits of paper will create new colors or you can create distinct lines by keeping the paper neatly positioned.

Either way, when lit from behind by the tea light, the result is beautiful. The translucent paper will transform the candle's light into a soothing watercolor that will brighten any room!

7. Fall Candle Holders

If you like the sound of watercolor luminaries then you'll love these seasonal candle holders.

They use most of the same tools as the other luminaries. But rather than using tissue paper you can pick fresh autumnal leaves for the side of the jars. Or, better still, let residents go outside and choose their own!

Thinner leaves are best for this as they let more light shine through. This is why fall is the perfect time of year for this specific craft.

Provided that they aren't too dry, the leaves will apply to the side of the jar using glue in exactly the same way as tissue paper. And when lit from behind they will let out of a warm, natural glow.

8. Creating Holiday Wreaths

Speaking of seasonal decorations, why not let residents create their very own holiday wreaths?

This is a lovely way to embrace the holiday season and let their personalities shine. Providing a plain wreath as a base can simplify that task. But some residents might prefer to create their own wreaths from scratch using wired garlands.

Then all they need is a plethora of decorations to choose from and they'll be away. Some nice ideas for wreath decorations include:

  • Ribbons
  • Glitter
  • Pinecones
  • Dried fruit
  • Fake snow
  • Candy canes
  • Berries
  • Baubles
  • Cinamon sticks
  • Silk Flowers and greenery

With so much to choose from, no two wreaths will come out looking the same!

9. Popsicle Stick Snowflakes

Last but by no means least, this festive decoration is a lovely way to embrace the holiday season.

Traditional cut-paper snowflakes can be challenging for the elderly. They require a lot of scissor control to come out just right. And cutting through thickly-folded paper can take a lot of strength!

These popsicle stick snowflakes are a great alternative. Providing you have a variety of sizes of popsicle sticks, it's easy to create amazing and intricate patterned snowflakes. You can even embellish these designs with paint and glitter for an extra special touch.

Then all that's left is to hang them up and transform your space into a winter wonderland!

It's Time to Get Creative!

Crafts for seniors are a great way to stimulate elderly friends, relatives or care home residents. They have an amazing effect on both the body and the mind. 

They also give care home residents a unique way to transform a space into their own. For more information on how to help someone settle into their new care home, check out our handy guide.