Art Projects for Seniors with Dementia

Sunrise Senior Living  |  May 27, 2021
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Art makes the world better. From the enjoyment that comes from looking at a watercolor painting to creating your own work of art, creativity has a variety of health benefits. Research also shows that engaging in the creative arts improves the lives of adults with dementia.

Here are a few of the many benefits the creative process provides seniors with memory impairment:

  • Reduced agitation and anxiety: Among the difficult behaviors caused by dementia are anxiety and agitation. When an adult with a memory impairment participates in art projects, they are more likely to remain focused and engaged. It gives them something tangible to do. The end result is often a reduction in anxiety and a boost to mood.
  • Sense of accomplishment: Short-term memory loss is common among adults with dementia. This can make it more difficult to stay on task and complete activities. Art projects can be empowering because it is the actual process of creating, rather than the finished project, that provides a sense of accomplishment.
  • Opportunity for self-expression: Dementia impacts different areas of the brain, including those linked to language skills. This can reduce a person’s verbal skills as well as their ability to communicate effectively. Because art utilizes a part of the brain that is different from that used for language, it gives people an ability to express themselves. That means a senior who has some form of dementia that affects their speech, can benefit from having a creative outlet as a means for self-expression.
  • A chance to socialize: Depending on the stage of a senior’s dementia, they may be able to participate in art classes. It might be ones you create for them at home or as part of an adult day program or memory care community. This gives the senior an opportunity to socialize with peers that can otherwise be tough to come by.

Easy Art Projects for Adults with Dementia

If you are looking for a few creative art projects for a senior loved one with memory loss, here is a list of ideas to explore:

  • Paper flowers: These can be as simple or as complex as you choose. It’s also an inexpensive project that requires few supplies. DIY Paper Flowers has step-by-step instructions for creating a variety of different floral designs. If you prefer to learn by video, 6 Easy Paper Flowers and How to Make a Flower Out of Paper are several to try.
  • Adult coloring books: Coloring is another easy art project that is especially great for relaxation. You can purchase these at bookstores and craft stores, along with colored pencils. Simple designs that are larger and easier to see might be best.
  • Handmade note cards: One easy idea to try is making note cards. You can make watercolor cards, stamp and ink designs, or cards made from pasting photos cut from magazines.
  • Decorating cookies: Another activity that has both aromatherapy and art therapy benefits is baking and decorating cut-out cookies. You can make seasonally themed cookies, such as for spring or Valentine’s Day.
  • Stepping stones: You could also purchase stepping stone kits from the craft store. They come in a variety of themes and designs, and can usually be completed in the course of an afternoon.

It may be a process of trial and error to determine which art projects your senior loved one most enjoys.

Art and Memory Care

At Sunrise communities, we know the important role art can play in the lives of people with dementia. Along with fitness programs and social activities, art is a part of daily life in our memory care Reminiscence® Neighborhoods. We invite you to call the Sunrise nearest you to schedule a time for a personal tour!


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