Seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease usually show distress or agitation through restless and fidgety hands. Certain drugs can minimize or suppress such behavior among agitated and restless patients. But according to studies conducted by John Hopkins University and the University of Michigan, non-drug approaches can effectively address symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia such as agitation, restlessness, and anxiety.
If caregivers may have noticed their elderly patients or parents with restless hands, they should consider the following suggestions:
1. Play familiar music and songs
Research suggests that music can provide behavioral and emotional benefits for elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Memories that are connected to music cannot be lost to Alzheimer’s and dementia because key areas of the brain are relatively unimpaired by the disease. Furthermore, musical appreciation and aptitude are two of the few remaining abilities of a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Playing, singing, or listening to familiar music and songs can help Alzheimer’s patients to remember by evoking emotions that bring memories. Music also allows the patients to communicate and share their emotions with their caregivers. Elderly patients can channel their anxiety and restless energy into clapping to the beat and the rhythm of the music. Those with mobility issues can deal with their anxiety by dancing with others.
2. Give a hand massage
Hand massages are not only soothing for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. According to a study by the National Center of Biotechnology Information, patients willing to accept a hand massage from caregivers responded positively to it. A five-minute hand massage can significantly reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can also contribute to cognitive decline.
3. Go outdoors
A 10-to-15 minute walk, or just quietly sitting outside, can help reduce stress and anxiety levels in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Restless hands can be diverted to touching and smelling the flowers or pulling weeds.
4. Adjust the room décor
Making a few changes and alterations will improve the situation of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who are prone to a lot of fidgeting. Make space brightly lit and organized – it will help patients to locate the things they need more easily. Put tags on containers, drawers, and cupboards. An air diffuser with a sweet and pleasant aroma can also help reduce anxiety. Organize items inside the purse or wallet – it can give patients comfort and channel their restless hands into doing a focused activity.
5. Get them involved in cognitive activities
Choosing appropriate and safe activities for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia can calm their restless hands. Even small chores, such as folding fabric or organizing paper, can help in reducing restlessness, and at the same time, improve their cognitive abilities. The repetitive nature of knitting and crocheting has a relaxing and soothing quality. Puzzles and other sensory tools, such as fidget blankets, sensory toys, DIY fidget boxes, lacing cards, and activity aprons can also keep their hands busy.
Kerr Medical compiles the following list of safe sensory stimulation products for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who exhibit restlessness and anxiety:
The Twiddle Activity Muff provides a fun and engaging way to keep the patient’s restless hands busy. It features an outer surface that provides ideal tactile stimulation. It also has marble-sized beads that are contained inside a sealed pouch, but they can still allow the hands to manipulate them. Trims such as buttons and ribbons provide additional engagement.
This specialized apron can help combat restless hands, boredom, and decreased cognitive function. Elderly patients can do buttoning and unbuttoning, opening and closing the zipper, threading grommets, and opening and closing the Velcro strap.
This tool provides both tactile and visual stimulation for someone who exhibits anxiety and restlessness. Its design also helps in preventing pressure and tiredness of the arms and elbows. It also comes in a variety of colors and shapes.
Patients can channel the restlessness of their hands through this sensory toy. It helps in improving their finger strength and dexterity. Also, it helps in maintaining their eye-hand coordination, increasing their attention span, and encouraging social interaction (it can also be played by two players).
This sensory toy enhances cognitive stimulation while improving hand-eye coordination and finger strength and dexterity. It also encourages patients to count sequences, and recognize and compare different colors, and understand numbers.
You can order these products and others in Kerr Medical’s catalog online or by calling 888.254.3444. Our team is available to answer your questions. Our goal is to ease the distress of the elderly patient or parent in your life.