I work at a nursing home as an activities director. I need ideas for new and exciting things I can do with them. Please keep in mind, that not many of them can do anything. Many only have the use of one hand.
I would also like to beg you to get involved in your local home. Many of them don't get visitors and could use friends. If you call ahead, most places will have someone able and ready to go for an ice cream or even church on Sundays. You can help simply by grabbing your pet and/or a book (I like the Chicken Soup books) and just go read to them, or hold a hand, you won't be sorry.
I have been volunteering for over ten years with my children at the local nursing home. We call it Moms, Tots & Pops. My five children range in age from 14 to 4. I set up a date once a month and we have about 20 - 30 people who participate. They love the kids being there and sometimes other moms and kids join in. The following are examples of things we do throughout the year. I try to tie it in with the season. We make suncatchers sometimes out of tissue paper and contact paper, we have also used beads and string, We have made sand designs, painted eggs for Easter, made picture frames, bookmarks, painted small pumpkins, marble painting on card stock to make cards, streamer windsocks in red/white/blue, memory cards, potpouri sachets, yarn dolls, pine cone turkeys, paper airplanes along with making magnet fish to have a game day. We've done garden pot decorating, hand wreaths, turkey pins, turkey pine cones, and a candy pipe cleaner Christmas tree. I hope those suggestions help. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just Google it, it will probably come up with directions and pictures for you.
Have fun and bring your kids/grandkids, neighborhood kids they make it that much more fun for the residents.
Bless you for your work and for reminding people to get involved as a volunteer at nursing homes!
A couple of decades ago I had a really large, mellow, declawed, twenty-four toed cat that I would take to the senior center a couple times a month and, man, did it ever feel good to see all those faces light up being able to see, pet and hold a pussy cat!
When my time comes to be in a nursing home or retirement community I think it would simply be fun to be a kid again with things like crayons and a coloring books :-) And maybe at Christmas time to even string popcorn garland for the community tree :-) Even those who only have use of one hand can team with someone else and feel job well done :-)
What about having them do some actual art activities? I am thinking of watercolor painting. If you do not know anything about watercolor, perhaps you could contact an art teacher or artist in the community to show you how to do some projects, or better yet, to volunteer to come into the home. I think this would be a very good activity. Those who are artistic can paint. Those who are less capable can do something abstract that may still turn out very nice. If you want to do something other than make paintings to hang on the wall, you could do small ones and turn them into greeting cards. I would use fairly good quality materials -- the paper is the most important thing. One of the homes that I know of had a professional artist in residence that facilitated art activities rather than crafty things.
One thing that would be nice for people who do like crafty things is to paint on precut wooden ornaments. I do a lot of this stuff with my middle years students at school. They make particularly nice wooden Xmas ornaments. You can use acrylic paints, but even easier is colored markers. We used white out pens to put "snow" on the houses, and you could use actual glitter and glue, or glitter pens to put shiny things on these if you liked that effect. Depends what you are making. I prefer them without the glitter. Coloring with markers -- fine tipped if you are making small things -- is much easier than painting, and much less messy. Even someone who has only one hand could do this. One kid picked a duckling cutout and just colored it over and over to get a glowing yellow duckling. It was very effective.
Another craft that is quite easy is to cover a bottle or a juice can (cardboard) with ripped up pieces of masking tape. Then this is polished with a medium brown shoe polish, and buffed to a shine. It makes a mock leather bottle or pencil holder if you are doing the can thing. They could make it for their grandchildren!!! Turn the tables on them!!! Even those with only one hand could do the tape and the buffing.
Well I am planning to visit someone at a nursing home soon. I want to do something nice this year even if it's just one person picked at a nursing home, it just feels like it's time to help someone out and make them feel like they have people around them who really do care.
I am thinking about buying a small stocking and filling it with stuff like pens wrapped in ribbon making them colorful, a Christmas poem, a nice book, and some candles, I am going to buy small candle holders and decorate them then put green and red candles inside. I also want to make decorations or take stuff and have them help me make their room look more colorful and seem a lot nicer to be in, make streamers, things to brighten the window.
It'll be a lot of fun and I'm writing this because if you're thinking of doing something for someone, don't change your mind, it will make them happy and you will know that you made someone feel hopeful.
Draw a simple large butterfly shape and photocopy as many as needed. Scrunch up 1inch or 2inch squares of tissue paper and decorate the butterfly. Cut out and hang up with invisible thread. Works of art on display and also the residents who cannot communicate can see them hanging. Very colourful
Make a mood chart. This is good for those who cannot communicate well. Can be made from felt or something that can have velcro attached to make it stick and removeable.
Make faces happy, sad, confused etc and head the chart I AM FEELING. The resident can help make the chart and this is a form of communication. So may times each day a resident is asked 'how are you feeling' Now they can tell you.
I volunteer at a local nursing home and do crafts several times a month.
Ideas that have worked well:
Rubber stamping -- I ink the stamps and place them on the paper where the resident wants it. The resident pushes down on the stamp to make the imprint. Most residents have the strength to push down on the stamp. We have made pictures and greeting cards from the stamps.
Stickers -- we have made pictures and cards using stickers. The helper removes the sticker from the sticker sheet and the resident places it where she wants.
Last week we made foam door hangers for the residents' rooms. The kits had self-adhesive letters and stamps. I brought my digital camera and printer to the nursing home and took pictures of the residents which they added to the foam hanger. I bought the kits from the Oriental Trading Company craft catalogue -- about $5 for a set of 12.
Read simple poetry to them leaving off the last word, only works if it rhymes. They can usually figure it out. Go on line and find a site aout Wise Old Sayings, like easy come easy ... go) they finish the saying. Go to thrift store and buy inexpensive games like Blurt, Password and donate them to the activity staff. Look up trivia on the internet for the residents, but make it fairly easy.
This isn't really a craft, but many of the nursing homes in our area are purchasing Wii consoles for their residents. The games that come with the console are some of the favorites. Many of the residents love to bowl, but can't hold the ball anymore This gives them a chance to play, but is much easier on them - AND it gets them moving
This isn't a craft idea but the residents of the nursing home enjoyed watching the staff play water balloon baseball. They even get involved. Need a nice day though
My mother was in a nursing home for a couple of years and she loved "craft-making" day. She decorated a small vine wreath for me that is still hanging on our house. She also made me stuffed pillows and strung beads. They give me great pleasure whenever I look at them or touch them.
Scrap booking seems to be the thing also. It is easy and can be done even if you have only the use of one hand. It helps keep their memories intact a little while longer and it is something that their kids can treasure and maybe help with as well by adding new pictures to the book as pages are added.
I was just thinking about doing something with the folks at nursing home where my mom is at. I do alot of scrapbooking and card making so I thought I'd ask if alright to hold scrapbooking classs there for folks. One idea is to use paper bags folded and glued as the book then scrap it, decorate ect and have them title it ME or all about me. Have each person put things about them; like if they liked to cook put cooking stickers ect. Plus pictures of them thru the years remember a paper bag scrap book is easy to make and not costly at all.
I have found that salt dough craft is very good. The making of the dough is good exercise for fingers and the rolling out. Cutting shapes and painting them afterward. We sell resident crafts at our summer fete and relatives love to buy their loved ones work of art.
I am an activities coordinator at a nursing home and Dementia unit. Some residents have found the chest that is stuffed with big bead necklaces, old watches, bracelets, headbands, head scarves etc is great to dress up with or just feel the fabrics and textures. Also you find them saying 'oh I had one of these' and starts a conversation and brings back memories.
Sweet making. No cook fudge, peppermint creams, coconut ice. All go down well and easy to do with no cooking. The residents get to bake again and also get to eat and share with their friends who cannot do anything.
Not a craft idea but lots of fun for all.
Take a large jar and put a much smaller jar inside. Fill with water to the top and place the lid on the larger jar after making a slit in the top (Like a money bank, and ensure no sharp edges) Take small coins and drop through the slit to see how many you can get into the small jar. Staff and relatives can't resist having a go either.
Last Christmas my 20 year old grand daughter and one of her friends called a local nursing home and asked how many residents they had, and if it would be OK if they brought each resident a Christmas card with a really little candy cane attached to it. They went to a dollar store and bought the cards and candy canes, and taped one candy cane to each card, and set a date to deliver them. My grand daughter said some of the residents got tears in their eyes when they recieved their card.
I live in an apartment building for disabled and elderly only. Management has a craft budget of 25¢ a person each month! My professional career was in the medical field but I always kept a part time job in the creative arts for stress relief and a little extra money. My reputation is using simple items or recycling things and giving them new life. Because of my experience I am able to do complex projects, but my neighbors needed crafts along the level of very small children. I have found many awesome crafts that have almost no cost but yet don't insult the intelligence of my neighbors by making a list of things most of us throw out, like toilet paper rolls, old denim clothing, empty vegetable cans, even plastic cans concentrate juice comes in! Once I have enough donations of an item I use my favorite search engine"Bing" and ask it simply: 'quick and simple crafts using ____________.' then I switch from a web search to images where I can quickly scan projects that are completed and instantly know which ones I can easily supply and teach. It's been a Godsend! I've even found ideas using materials I hadn't ever considered.
Balloons!! Blow up a Balloon and hit it to an Elder/Resident. They can hit it back with little to no effort. It won't hurt them if they miss. Some Elders like to try to catch the balloon. They are colorful, inexpensive and very easy to see.
To elaborate on this, buy at the Dollar Store, fly Swatters. Glue (hot glue gun) Colorful, Big Flowers on one side (so they are more fun to use, and don't get mixed up with the real fly swatters).
I use this EVERY morning in my warm up chair exercise program with the Elders. THey LOVE it. You'd be surprised just how Competitive this gets. and CALL out their First Name before you hit it to them, so they can expect their turn and be ready to play.
This helps warm them up and hand/eye coordination and smiles for miles. They are always ready to eat their breakfast after warming up with our Balloon Toss. Good Luck~
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