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A-MAZE-ing Activities for People with Dementia: From Fidget Widgets to Marble Mazes

Cormac Stanford

For many people suffering from neurological disorders, especially older people who are living with memory loss conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s, it may seem like they are constantly in motion and cannot settle down. However, it is often their hands that do the moving—not their legs—especially when the disease is progressing to the later stages and mobility becomes more and more impacted.

Calm Frenetic Fidgeters

Unfortunately, fidgety hands are a sign of stress and anxiety that starts to subconsciously manifest in people living with dementia. This can include constantly gripping or pulling at clothing or nearby fabrics, wringing or rubbing the hands together, among others. While these behaviors serve to soothe, they can often become extremely distracting or even destructive.

One way to combat this is to provide the person with an object that can be manipulated and serve as a focal point to detract from the nervous behaviors. There are many products in this category now that have been proven to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s is feeling and replace it with an engaging object to keep his/her mind and hands occupied. In this sense, energetic hands are good because they can distract a frenetic mind.

No matter what product/object you provide to the person, the goal is to have him/her engage with it, but also to make sure that the object is safe and large enough that it can’t be lost, mistakenly tied around parts of the body, or ingested. These can vary from tennis balls, which are fuzzy to the touch, to stress relievers that feel squishy, to marketed products like textured fidget grips or widgets.

Here are some examples of products that Relish offers, that are tailored to people experiencing early symptoms of dementia all the way up through the late stages:

- “Fidget widgets” are wooden objects that a person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s can hold while engaging his/her kinesthetic sense. These allow the person to stay calm and relax enough that he/she may “get lost in” the repetitive movements, such as rolling, twisting, turning, sliding, or spinning. By employing the hand muscles, they boost fine motor skills. So get fidgeting with our widgets that come in all different varieties or buy our pack of all five in one at https://relish-life.com/dementia-sensory/fidget-widgets.

- There are also many games for people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s that spur creativity, activate physical movement, and spawn connections! One of these is marble mazes, which are a great tactile way to grab attention and draw engagement. The trick on some of these games is to get the marble from point A to point B and have fun the entire way with an exciting coordination and dexterity workout. An added benefit of mazes is that they employ spatial reasoning while boosting independence. They are offered in a track version, as well as spiral and infinity shapes too at https://relish-life.com/dementia-games/marble-mazes.

View our online catalog featuring “a-MAZE-ing” games and activities tailored specifically to those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Visit Relish-life.com or download our free app for families and caregivers for ideas and resources that support wellbeing in the dementia community.