Wednesday 8 February 2023

Creative blogs from 2016 - 2021

Below are links to many of the activities that my mum and I enjoyed together.

Over the years that I cared for mum, I shared our creative activities on my facebook page and also on this blog-site. My hope was that others on a similar dementia-journey may find some inspiration. 

Mum gained her angel wings on the 20th December 2021 so in this, my final post, I am giving links to all my previous blogs. Simply click on the title of the blogs below.

Making Paper Flowers - 11/06/2016 

Making crepe paper flowers was one of my mum's favourite hobbies. Through the early and mid stages of her dementia she created hundreds of beautiful blooms. She enjoyed cutting out the brightly coloured petals & leaves and was very good at assembling them onto the stem. As her dementia progressed I simplified the activity by cutting out the petals and leaves for her and applying the glue ... by adapting the craft she was able to enjoy this hobby almost until the end of her life. My paper flower blog shows photos and gives instructions on how to make a simple flower. You can also see a video tutorial we made for 'Together in This' on how to make crepe-paper daffodils.

Crafty Containers - 26/06/2016

Another one of mum's favourite hobbies was covering boxes and containers … anything from margarine tubs to Pringles tubes, tea caddies & chocolate boxes!
She made some beautiful (and very useful) vases and pencil holders which I now have displayed in my craft room. 

Creative Colouring - 10/07/2016

My mum was an amazing artist and had exhibited her work at exhibitions over the years. Sadly dementia caused her to lose confidence in her ability but she enjoyed colouring books for several years after her diagnosis. When her hands became too shaky for her to colour neatly, she stopped colouring. Fortunately I found "velvet pictures" which have raised velvet that kept her within the lines and immediately she began to enjoy this activity again. If you would like to know more about these pictures you can read about them and see photos here on this Face Book post on Creative Carer.

Stone and Shell Craft - 30/07/2016

My mum had always loved to collect shells from the seaside and pretty stones from rivers so this was a lovely way to use her collections and it became a very meaningful activity for her. She made some beautiful gifts which she was very proud of.

Jigsaw Puzzles - 07/08/2016

Jigsaw puzzles had been a hobby that my mum had always enjoyed. As her dementia progressed 1000 piece puzzles became impossible and quite quickly she was only able to manage 100 piece puzzles. Sadly even 100 pieces soon became too much of a challenge for her and we went on to 35 piece dementia jigsaws. When these puzzles became too frustrating for mum I created 2 new types of puzzles that you can read about in my Alternative Puzzles blog. The "alternative puzzles" gave mum this hobby back again and amazingly she was able to continue with 100 piece puzzles almost until the end of her life.

Handmade cards - 28/09/2016

My mum absolutely loved making cards and thoroughly enjoyed cutting out cat and dog shapes from patterned paper. I would give her a template to cut around and she cut out literally thousands of animal shapes over the years! She enjoyed decorating the cards with glitter or stick-on jewels.

Seasonal Crafts - 30/12/2016

I believe meaningful activities are very important for those living with dementia. As my mum was no longer aware of the time of year, I liked to introduce seasonal crafts to help her recognise the different seasons. We made paper daffodil flowers in the spring, pressed autumn leaves in the fall and made Christmas decorations and Christmas cards in the winter months.

Online Activities - 17/04/2017

I used technology to bring new challenges and variety to the creative and stimulating activities mum & I enjoyed. I found websites for jigsaw puzzles, colour-by-number, card games and much more! We also watched lots of YouTube videos on funny animals as well as music videos with the words on the screen.

Shell Craft - 04/09/17

My mum loved painting and decorating seashells. We coloured them with felt tip pens and glitter and made beautiful windchimes and decorative hangings. Over the years we sold many of her shell crafts in her Etsy shop.

Making Use of Old Christmas Cards - 23/10/17

My mum saved all the greeting cards she received and loved to cut out the pictures on them to create what she called "re-makes". She used pinking shears to cut around the pictures to make gift tags or glued the pictures on to blank cards to create new cards. She spent hours happily looking through her old cards and cutting out shapes for her "remakes".

Cutting Sticking & Gluing - 16/02/2018

One of my mum's favourite hobbies was cutting out cat and dog shapes. I would give her templates and sheets of pretty patterned paper. Between 2014 and 2021 she cut out literally thousands of animal shapes! She carefully drew on the animal faces and decorated their collars with stick on jewels. We used her animal designs in our card-making and in collages.

Alternative Puzzles - 14/11/2020

When mum's dementia reached the stage where she was no longer able to complete even 35 piece dementia puzzles, I devised two ways for her to continue enjoying this hobby. Numbering the puzzle pieces revolutionised our jigsaws! On days when even her 'numbered puzzles' were too challenging she could manage the velcro puzzles I made.

Beading & Lacing - 25/08/2021

Beading was a simple hobby that mum enjoyed almost until the end of her life. We used brightly coloured 'pony beads' (which have a large hole) to make beautiful hangings and suncatchers that we sold on Etsy. 
Lacing uses a similar action to sewing and mum took to it straight away!


I hope you will find our ideas and activities helpful and that your journey 
will be as full of love, laughter and creativity as ours was.

Please visit my website and my facebook page for more ideas and photos of my beautiful mum.

My "In Memory of Mum" Etsy shop has forget-me-not suncatchers, Alzheimer's art & poems as well as other crafts. I continue to support the Alzheimer's Society and so far I have donated over £2,000

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Beading & Lacing - Art Therapy for those with Alzheimer's

My mum's Dementia is now in advanced stages, however she still gets great joy from being creative. Sadly there are many activities that she can no longer manage on her own but I have found a couple of lovely crafts that she can do all by herself ... beading and lacing! 


We use pony beads which have a 4mm hole and so they are easy to thread onto twine, pipe cleaners and even shoe laces! 

My mum enjoys stringing the brightly coloured beads, shells and charms and makes beautiful strands that together we use to create window hangings.

The beads we use are readily available on ebay and Amazon and are relatively inexpensive. We buy 1,000 beads for £5 - £6 ... there are a great variety of different beads (and prices) so its important to shop around!

Mum's favourite beads are the flower ones ... especially forget-me-not beads.

Our favourite hangings are sun catchers which create lovely rainbows across the room. Our living room window is full of lots of mum's beautiful creations!

I tend to give mum twine to sting her beads on and find that by adding some PVA glue to the end, it makes it stiff enough to easily pass through the beads. 

We have also made some lovely flowers and butterflies using pipe-cleaners!

Keeping mum's hands busy lessens her anxiety so having meaningful activities like beading is very important. I make sure she has crafts and puzzles to do every day and its just lovely to see her proud of all her creations!

I hope our bead projects inspire and help others who are struggling to find a simple yet beautiful craft they can enjoy!


My mum had been an incredible seamstress … she made all my clothes when I was little … she made my beautiful wedding dress … she embroidered, quilted, upholstered and so much more!
When I discovered lacing in the later stages of her Dementia, I knew it would be perfect for her as it was the same sewing action she was so familiar with. This activity engages hand-eye coordination, fine motor and attention skills … all which I felt were extremely important to try to preserve for as long as possible.

I found great lacing cards on Amazon with animal pictures and she loved these!

Lacing is a simple activity but very valuable in keeping hand-eye co-ordination!

I hung some of mum’s laced animals on our display tree. I liked to have her creations all over the house so she could see them and I could tell her how clever she was.

I bought a couple of different children’s lacing packs but mum’s favourite was the Mellissa & Doug one from Amazon

We found lacing to be a relaxing, meaningful activity. I hope others will enjoy it as much as my mum did.

Saturday 14 November 2020

Alternative Puzzle Ideas

Its been over two years since I have written a blog post ... so much has happened over this period ... and although I share our journey on my Creative Carer page, unfortunately I haven't had a chance to keep my blog posts up to date!

In December 2018 my stepdad passed away and we brought my mum into our home to care for her. Caring for someone at mum's stage of Dementia is a 24/7 job which my partner James and I share between us.

Sadly mum's Dementia has progressed over the last two years and sometimes she didn't know who we were so I designed a selection of named T shirts which we wear every day. These T shirts really help her. 

More than ever we engage mum in activities as keeping her busy lessens her anxiety. Over the years I have had to adapt our existing crafts and puzzles and have started new, easier ones for her so I wanted to share a couple of ideas that are currently working very well for us.

Numbered Jigsaw Puzzles

My mum has always been a jigsaw puzzler and before Dementia she enjoyed 1,000 piece puzzles. Soon after her diagnosis in 2012, I could see she was struggling with her jigsaws so we went down to 500 pieces ... then 100 piece puzzles. Because 100 piece puzzles are usually for children, I designed our own jigsaws using mum's favourite things as the subject ... cats and flowers! 

I also coloured the edges of the puzzle in different colours (red and yellow sides, blue at the top & green at the bottom) to help her. I would separate the edges from the inner pieces and keep them in separate bags to lessen the number of pieces she was working with at any one time. Often I designed puzzles in four sections so she could work on just a quarter of the puzzle at a time. 

But even with these puzzles and methods, the 100 pc jigsaws became too difficult for her and in 2018 we turned to 35 piece special Dementia puzzles. I'm sad to say she began to struggle with these too and we stopped jigsaws all together when they became too frustrating and upsetting for her.

In 2020 I had an idea to number the puzzle pieces ... first starting with 35 piece puzzles and numbering the front of the puzzle piece and where it sat on the board.

I soon realised if the number wasn't on the puzzle piece mum would instinctively turn it over to look for the number so I began numbering the backs which meant the picture wasn't defaced. Mum took to this numbering method immediately so I dug out her 100 piece puzzles from the loft and started numbering them too!

I use canvas painting boards that are the perfect size for 100 pc puzzles. If you are in the UK, you can find them at The Works. They are also available on Amazon (the boards are 16 inches x 20 inches).

To start with I glue down the edges on the board with PVA glue to create a fixed frame.

I then put the jigsaw together and lift each piece and draw round the shape where the piece sits. Finally, I number the back of each puzzle piece together with the place it sits on the board.

Yes it is a time consuming process making these!! 

But ... the benefits for mum (and James & I) are immense. Mum will happily puzzle again all by herself! This gives James & I a little respite to do some chores or just step away knowing mum is content with a jigsaw. 

Mum is so proud of herself and absolutely loves her puzzles again which is wonderful to see. I have made 6 different ones ... it takes her about 20 minutes to complete one 100 pc puzzle (actually she only has 66 pieces to place as the 34 edge pieces are glued to the board). Mum does these puzzles over and over ... they are like a new puzzle to her every time, bless her.

This is a puzzle I designed for mum years ago on PhotoBox (100 pcs). It has coloured edges and I designed it in 4 different sections ... but with the numbering method she manages to complete the whole puzzle on her own without the sections being separated. What a result!!

Video of mum in number-puzzle action!

Velcro Puzzles

This is another puzzle idea I recently came up with and they have been a big hit with mum! Even 'Mittens' seems to like them!

I use canvas painting boards, same as the ones I use for the numbered puzzles. 

I print off images (from Google images), laminate them and cut them out

I then draw round the shapes on the board. I number/name the shape on the board and put a sticker with the corresponding number on the back of the laminate shape

Finally I apply a small piece of velcro on each piece and on the board. This means the pieces don't slip off the board and we can tilt it up so mum doesn't have to bend over.

For this puzzle I coloured around the shapes with water colour crayons.

Water colour crayons can be brushed over with water to blend and soften the colours. 

Here is mum working on her velcro puzzle ...

And here is the finished puzzle!

I believe it is extremely important to provide those with memory problems meaningful activities that are pitched at the right level for their abilities.

Video of Mum in velcro-puzzle action!

I really hope these two alternative puzzle ideas will be helpful for others who are finding traditional jigsaws just too challenging to enjoy.

Friday 16 February 2018

Cutting, sticking and gluing - Art Therapy for those with Alzheimers

My mum has always loved crafts ... she especially enjoys cutting out shapes and will happily spend hours on this activity as long as she has a template or pattern to follow! 

This activity helps maintain hand - eye coordination, fine motor skills and provides artistic stimulation. 

More and more I need to get my mum started and guide the process but the "Job Box" I have introduced really helps as when I am not there as it reminds her of things she can do.

I have modified and simplified the templates so the shapes are easy for her to cut out. Simple cats and flowers work well as they are her favourite subjects. 

I leave pretty patterned paper, a template, scissors and an example or a note in the "Job Box" ...

Almost always when I return I find her 'job' has been completed and there are many beautiful creations waiting for me :)

We use colourful stick on jewels ... my mum loves choosing the colours ... I make sure we have a good variety to encourage her artistic flair :) The sticky back on the jewels make them easy for mum to handle.

On good days my mum can draw on the cat faces ... on days that aren't so good she will leave them for me to complete but we always discuss and decide together the expression ... I always value her opinion.

I thank my mum for her 'work' and say how much time she has saved me so that she feels she has helped me. 

Everyone likes to feel appreciated and those with memory loss are no different ... in fact I believe it is even more important to praise my mum and make her feel useful.

We use all mum's beautiful creations on our 
hand-made cards.

She's very proud to put our names on the back of our cards! 

Our craft activities are always a joint effort :)

Things to remember about this activity ...
Be flexible. Don't force anything. Encourage and help when necessary. Never criticize. Always, always praise!