5 Activities to Keep Hands Busy for thse with Alzheimer’s or Other dementias

5 Activities to Keep Hands Busy


I receive many requests about items to help the person with Alzheimer’s Dementia to keep their hand busy.

My Mom loved to crochet. The only stitch she remembered after mid-stage dementia was the single crochet and  chain stitch.

But she could still crochet in circles and created 100’s of Circular Hot Pads for use in the Group Home where she lived and as gifts for friends and family.

The “Group Home” proudly displayed Mom’s Hot Pads as table mats for the dining room table, smaller ones as glass coasters, and many for her friends as  dresser scarves for their nightstands and dressers.

Mom crocheted endlessly but every stitch brought immeasurable pleasure. Her eyes would light up with each hot-pad she gave as a gift.

I hope your loved one finds something as fulfilling as my Mom’s crochet. As I’ve stated earlier, when my Mom finally forgot that very last stitch of crochet, she still colored in her coloring book until the end.

What I noticed most was that she wanted to keep her fingers and hands busy, almost like warding off some agitation in her fingers.

There was only one gentlemen in the Group Home where Mom stayed, but I noticed he enjoyed fiddling with large wooden beads. He would string them on a heavy cord, then take them off and string them again.

A few ideas for nervous agitated finger activities are:

  1. Large Wooden Beads – Yarn or twine for stringing them.
  2. Crayons and Coloring Books
  3. Word find books (If they’re still able to do these)
  4. Crochet or Knit
  5. Paint small ceramics (Paint Colors – Do not frustrate with lots of choices)
  6. Bucky Balls (Google gave me this idea last week! Mom would have loved this little toy!)

Last week, as Bucky Balls celebrated their 25th Anniversary — Google added a spinning ball to their Home Page in Celebration. Other sites and forums were abuzz with Bucky Balls 25th Anniversary. I was surprised that I had never thought of Bucky Balls while I was searching for activities for MOM.

When I was younger, my dad had a set of Bucky Balls on top of the television as though they ranked right up there with TV for a prized activity. I wish I had remembered that while Mom was with us. She would have loved Bucky Balls, and your loved one may like them too. A great activity for those still nimble, agitated fingers.


Paisley Designs Coloring Book (Dover Design Coloring Books)More infoCrayola 64 Ct Crayons (52-0064)More info3mm Magic Jigsaw Puzzle Neodymium Magnetic Bead Toy 216pc Set (Black) by Sweet-WhrooomMore infoMelissa & Doug Primary Lacing BeadsMore infoJumbo Lacing Beads Classic Made in USA Wood ToyMore infoSpringbok Summer Celebration Jigsaw Puzzle, 36-PieceMore infoSpringbokMore info


Many of those with Memory Loss love Jig Saw Puzzles with large pieces

Ravensburger Bookshop Jigsaw Puzzle (1000-Piece)Ravensburger Road Trip USA – 1000 Piece PuzzleRavensburger Grandma’s Attic – 1000 Pieces PuzzleRavensburger Seaside – 500 Piece PuzzleRavensburger Magical Knowledge – 500 Piece PuzzleKitchen Cupboard Jigsaw Puzzle, 1000-Piece



  1. says

    Please be careful with small items like that of a Bucky Ball – of course everyone is different – but many people with beyond stage 1 Alzheimer’s or other dementias, will stick anything they can in their mouth. Just a word of caution. Love all the other ideas listed for activity ideas.

    • ~ Sandy says

      Thanks so much for that reminder. That is so true and a good caution to remember.


  2. stephanie trump marrero says

    Thank you. Interesting you mention frontal lobe dementia. She was initially diagnosed with FTD, but after further testing, it was determined she had Alzheimer’s. My mom was diagnosed in 2008 and I’ve read that patients who were very active in life continue to be so with AD. I believe she is on Aricept already. The neurologist just prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. She has become very angry and defiant recently. Insomnia has also begun. My dad can no longer keep up with her. We are looking into placing her in assisted living within a memory unit. Physically, she is fine. Thin, but healthy. I appreciate your information and will pass it on to my dad.

  3. stephanie trump marrero says

    i like your ideas for keeping alz patient’s busy. my mom, however, wiil not sit still. at any time. she is on the move from the time she wakes to bedtime. she mostly walk in our neighborhood with an aide, but when ‘stuck’ inside because of weather or darkness, she is on her feet moving from room to room. i don’t know what activities besides walking to do with her. i am 33 weeks pregnant and helping my dad care for her. we are both worn out with walking. :/

    • ~ Sandy says

      Oh my goodness. I have heard of a few others who continuously walk but never had the problem with my own mother. It seems to be a behavior seen most often in those who have frontal lobe dementia. Some sort of connection that causes the “control center for inhibitions” to malfunction.

      Any compulsive behavior can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s and dementia, a deterioration of some part of the brain. I understand how difficult that would be for the caregivers, also, certainly walking with her all day just wouldn’t be possible. Though it sounds healthy, it might also be wearing on her bones and muscles.

      Some of the medications taken for Alzheimer’s cause different parts of the brain to connect better. If you haven’t done so already, it might be a good idea to mention this behavior to her doctor. I’m not talking about sedation, I’m sure that isn’t what you want either. But some medications such as Aricept and a few others are suppose to make the brain connections that are broken–work better. That could be the issue.

      I think a consult with her physician would be my first priority. He might have some other ideas, as well as dertermining whether her body is enduring all the walking without injury.


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