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My dad is in a nursing home with advanced dementia. Apparently he is constantly fidgeting with his clothes and ripping them. We have purchased sweat pants without a string and pullovers with no zippers or buttons and that has helped. But he still seems to want to do "something" with his hands. Just curious if anyone has ever run into this and if they found any objects that helped? As I write this I remembered as a little girl having a "dressy bessy" and "dapper dan" doll where you could learn to dress a doll. I'm not sure that would work but it popped into my head just now. Any other ideas?


Thanks in advance!

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My Dad loved coloring books. They have a huge selection of adult coloring books.

not only kept his hands busy, but helped to calm him too. Between coloring books and peace and quiet...we could usually delay onset sundowner by a couple hours.
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My husband loves coloring as well . We did however have to buy very simple children’s coloring books ( of dogs as he loves those) as the adult ones became too difficult. My granddaughter also suggested painting small rocks which he really enjoyed and we all painted some and made a tiny rock garden in front of our house . I call it our Zen garden but it’s kind of a gardenette 😂 I just bought some brick pavers and painting them is our next project to “fancy “ up our patio . He does fidget constantly while sitting and watching TV or listening to iTunes . He sometimes rubs his knuckles raw so it’s really a constant battle . I bought some items from an online Alzheimers source and sometimes they work and sometimes not . What works best is petting the dog but sometimes he gets too intense and poor thing gives him a dirty look and jumps down from the sofa . In the early evening we sit outside in front of our house and he holds the dog on his lap and visits with our neighbors as they pass by . In that way he can’t fidget and is social at the same time . Yesterday his hands were very restless and I was going to make twice baked potatoes so I had him wash 10 pounds of potatoes which made him feel useful , kept his hands busy and also tired him out a bit . All these things work now but who knows what tomorrow will bring . I’m finding it’s trial and error and whether he is having a day where he’s receptive to my suggestions . Good luck everyone . Pat yourselves on the back and say
“good job” cause we need to hear that even if it’s from ourselves .
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He sounds like a good match for one of the various "fidget" items marketed to people with dementia, there are aprons, quilts, muffs and more that incorporate various ribbons, snaps, pockets, zips etc to help provide sensory stimulation and keep hands busy.
AgingCare has a link for one that can get you started on your search

https://www.agingcare.com/products/twiddle-therapy-fidget-aid-445244.htm
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gmcrook Dec 2019
Thank you everyone!
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Depending how handy you or others in your family are, if you search “busy boards for men” in Pinterest you’ll find lots of ideas. Essentially, you take a piece of plywood and put different locks, latches, zippers, etc, on it. I was saving ideas to make one for my dad, but then his circumstances changed dramatically. Wishing you the very best and sending you hugs.
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My husband (of 50 years) has dementia and has always been a fidgeter. I tried lots of things and they worked for awhile. Ball to squeeze, hand strengthening tool, jacks to twirl, small puzzles with large pieces, Legos to build things, you just have to try different things until you find something that works. Eventually, he became so anxious (OCD) that his doctor put him on a very small dosage of anxiety meds. It slows things down just enough that he no longer wants to play in trashcans. Hope this helps.
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We found a ‘rubiks ‘ cube worked wonders for my father- kept his hands busy for quite some time during the day.
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There is a ton of products for this express purpose on Amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=alzheimers+fidget+toys+for+adults&crid=19JVPV38RRBSD&sprefix=alzheimers+fidg%2Caps%2C170&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_15

Best of luck!
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Know someone that quilts? You can have a dementia quilt made. It uses many different types of fabrics (cotton, velvet, chenille) and ribbons, etc... The quilt has a great "touch factor" which I might help.
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Google "worry beads". This item is used in many countries for people who like to fidget. Safe and inexpensive.
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I have gone through several stages w my dad. A box w all kinds of small tools. I told him he needed to go through box & get rid of anything he doesn't use. He was busy for an hour. Now, I buy rubber toys from dollar store. Just make sure they are too large to put in mouth. They "look" like a stress ball, a breast implant or an octopus, in different colors. These simple toys have helped reduce anxiety, even better than meds, for my dad.
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This past summer I bought a furry robotic dog, for my husband, made by Hasbro (in the past)called "biscuit", on eBay. It is working fantastically for both of us. He loves it and when he is holding and petting it, it is quiet time for me. He even falls asleep in the recliner, while petting him. When he asks what the dog eats, I tell him he doesn't because he is a senior citizen, apartment dog that has batteries instead so that way he doesn't have to p**p outside. My husband likes that until the next time he asks the same question. I hope this will be the same comfort companion down the road, but right now it sure is a blessing for us. He even enjoys the dogs movements and sounds, but if this would upset someone the switch could be turned off.
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