Feb 15, 2017
By: Stephanie Reed
Fine motor skills involve the coordination of small muscles in movements with the eyes. This usually requires the synchronization of hands and fingers. Seniors who find joints stiffening, their grip getting weaker or feel they are losing their dexterity may find that this fun task helps alleviate these issues. Knitting, crocheting and quilting enhances wrist strength, joint range of motion as well as dexterity and strength in a person’s fingers.
Over time, we develop small white lesions on our brains called hyperintensities. When these spots increase, it has been linked to movement difficulty such as walking or handling small objects. This can occur as a normal part of the aging process, but it can also be exacerbated by certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Practicing simple exercises and movements reduces the effects of white matter lesions on the brain. Exercising those fine motor skills by knitting, crocheting or quilting has a dual mind–body benefit. It can reduce the risk of dementia, sharpen your brain and help maintain and develop fine motor skills.
This helpful hobby also reduces stress and anxiety. Using your concentration to focus on one task and its complexity not only slows you down, but it also forces you to submit your focus to one thing, calming the mind. This stress relieving activity gives you a tangible product you can keep afterward or gift to somebody to boost their spirit. One wonderful example of this is our resident, Ms. Madge.
For one resident at Oak Pointe of Maryville, quilting has been a life long hobby and passion. Ms. Madge was a farm wife and mother and stitched every one of her quilts by hand.
“My grandmother was a seamstress and I learned from her. I completed my first quilt right before I got married at 19. The most rewarding part about quilting is that it helps to pass time. I would sew while resting, after all the chores were done,” says Ms. Madge.
Madge is now 96 and finished her last quilt at 94. She has a collection of over 25 quilts in her vicinity and enjoys giving them to her family, different churches as donations and different fundraising organizations.
Madge has won many competitions with her handmade creations. One of her most remarkable quilts, called the “Window of Peace”, received “Best in Show” at the Missouri State Fair. This is not her first time receiving popularity for her quilts, however. Her latest completed quilt was posted onto Oak Pointe of Maryville’s Facebook page and received a large amount of praise. That love including: 43 shares, 66 comments and 12,000 views that are steadily increasing.
A less obvious benefit of handicrafts is the opportunity for social interaction. Yes, knitting, crocheting and quilting are great for socializing as well. As portable projects, they’re ideal for doing among friends: sharing ideas, techniques, and simply visiting while you work. Elders also experience an increased sense of self-esteem that arises when a project is finished as well, from knowing that you began something, put in the time, effort and patience to complete it, and can now show the world.
Developing hobbies that involve the fine motor skills at an early age is recommended, but it’s even more recommended for seniors who will benefit from these crafts. The benefits of these task are not just physical, but also affect your mind, body and soul. Pick up some knitting needles, crochet pins or anything to develop this habit of working to advance your motor skills. You won’t regret it!
For more information on the health benefits of seniors exercising the brain, visit www.alz.org, or contact me, Stephanie Reed, at 660-853-8609 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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