If you’re caring for an aging parent or a patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia, most of your day is most likely devoted to keeping them comfortable and safe as much as possible. You may have noticed that when a person with dementia becomes stressed or anxious, their hands become restless. They tend to pull their clothes or bedding, wring their hands, twist their fingers, or rub their skin, and you worry that they might hurt themselves. Seniors with dementia tend to do this to deal with discomfort.
According to experts, sensory therapy can help soothe seniors safely by keeping their hands busy in a productive way, and this includes the use of fidget toys.
What is Fidget Toy?
A fidget toy is a toy that a person can hold in the hands to keep them engaged to focus on what’s going on around them. Fidget toys are commonly used for children who have trouble learning, but it has been proven beneficial even for seniors living with cognitive conditions.
Fidget toys come in different forms and shapes, and they can be an excellent alternative to restless or destructive behavior. Symptoms differ from one person to another, so a fidget toy that’s praised by another caregiver may not work for your loved one. It’s helpful to try various toys and see what they respond to. You also have to teach the senior how to use a toy. For instance, if you hand them a stress ball, the first reaction may be to throw it instead of squeezing it.
How does a Fidget Toy Help a Person with Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia that impair cognitive functions, perceptual acuity, and social abilities cause a person to be rattled and often agitated. Think about it this way: as the disease progresses, the person with Alzheimer’s disease regains childlike qualities that make children see the world as a magical place. For children, everything is new since they don’t have a past. But for a person with Alzheimer’s, the world can be filled with novelty because he forgets the past due to the disease.
Once you give toys to the patient, he or she will be fascinated. When a patient’s speech is incoherent, and he or she is usually tired, amusing them with sensory toys will help ease tiredness and make them much more conversational. Make sure you choose toys that are stage-appropriate, as it will do a better job of holding the interest and attention of the person with Alzheimer’s.
However, loved ones of people with Alzheimer’s have raised concerns about the appropriateness of using toys of treatment. That concern is understandable since it’s difficult to watch a parent or a beloved grandparent regress into a childlike state. Unfortunately, this is what happens to a person with dementia. Stage-appropriate activities, including playing with fidget toys, enhance the quality of the lie of persons with dementia. The only valid reason for rejecting toys is if the person in care objects to using it.
Best Fidget Toys for Seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Here are some of the toys that can help soothe seniors and keep them entertained:
1. Fidget spinners
Fidget spinners were on the rage in 2017. For many people, playing the fidget spinner is a way to stay focused and engaged. Some consider it as a toy, but it’s a therapy for children and adults with ADD, ADHD, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, dementia, or those who fidget. For seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s it can help soothe them and keep them focused on a specific activity. It can also help those with arthritis strengthen their finger and hand muscles and prevent stiffness in the finger joints.
2. Tangle toys
Seniors with Alzheimer’s often have fidgety hands, and these tangle games can give their hands something to do as they move. Seniors can play with these things for hours. It can help calm anxious seniors and improve their hand motion and restore movement, hand joints, and finger muscles.
The links of this toy can come apart and be reattached over and over again. But if the elderly likes putting things in their mouths, they must be supervised when playing these tangle therapy toys because some have small pieces that can be choking hazards.
3. Fidget cubes
Like fidget spinners, fidget cubes are meant to occupy the hands and mind of the patient. It offers stress and anxiety relief for the user.
- JOEYANK Fidget Cube New Version Fidget Finger Toys
- PILPOC theFube Fidget Cube
- FIDGET DICE 6 Sides Fidget Toys Cube
4. Fidget snap and click toys
Snappy plastic fidget toys can offer stress relief therapy for seniors with dementia, and for kids with autism and ADHD. It helps promote a sense of calm and increase focus and attention. It can also keep the seniors’ fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, and eye and hand coordination skills intact.
- Neliblu Wacky Tracks Snap and Click Fidget Toys for Sensory
- Big Mo’s Toys Fidget Toy
- Snap and Click 24 chain pieces puzzle sensory hand fidget
5. Fidget quilts
Fidget quilts come with various textures, colors, and patterns. It’s a perfect gift for those with restless hand syndrome, fidgeting, and anxiety often associated with dementia. These fidget quilts can help exercise the hands and fingers, stimulate the brain with colors and textures, and alleviate boredom for seniors.
- Restless Remedy Fidget Quilts Fidget Blanket for Dementia
- Restless Remedy Fidget Quilts Gift for Veteran
- GeriGuard Solutions Fidget Quilt
These may not be considered as fidget toys, but games work wonderfully for people with Alzheimer’s. Tabletop games that engage the brain is always a good thing for a senior with dementia.
- Keeping Busy Match The Shapes Engaging Activity
- Keeping Busy Expressions Dementia and Alzheimer’s Game Engaging Activities / Puzzles
- Keeping Busy Seasons Word Search Dementia and Alzheimer’s Grab & Go Engaging Puzzles/Activities/Games
- Keeping Busy Match The Dots Dementia and Alzheimer’s Engaging Activities / Puzzles
- Keeping Busy Trio Dementia and Alzheimer’s Engaging Activities / Puzzles / Games