Alzheimer Awareness Month: Occupying Busy Hands in September

September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In honor of those who are caring for a senior with this cognitive disorder, we are hoping to make your experience better with some soothing information. If you are caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia, their anxiety and agitation may manifest themselves as fidgety hands. If you see your senior tugging at their clothes or bedding, wrenching their fingers, or constantly rubbing hands or keeping them moving.  So how can you quiet the hands? It may sound weird, but there are lots of specialty toys for seniors designed for sensory therapy: to decrease anxiety, soothe nerves and provide comfort. And you thought fidget toys were just for kids! These simple gadgets can keep your senior calm and comforted, so consider checking them out. Research how to make or where to buy things like fidget quilts, sensory activity aprons, activity pillows, fidget quilt books. You can even DIY a fidget box. Group things with zippers or Velcro closures, little wind-up toys, stress balls for squeezing, plastic Slinkys, soft pieces of fleece or faux fur, old keys on a key ring.

In addition, you can purchase a spiky massage ball, a wooden lacing bead set, or a therapy doll and fidget toy. No matter what the activity or toy, just remember that the goal is to engage your older adult in something fun and keep their hands happily occupied. You can get crafty and reintroduce knitting or crocheting, with larger needles and hooks perhaps. The repetitive hand motion is soothing! Even if the scarf comes out lumpy. Who cares! Even chores can quiet idle hands, simple things like folding small towels, organizing unimportant piles of paper, and straightening out the junk drawer.