Coloring provides many benefits for people with dementia, including improved mood, enhanced cognition, and greater self-expression.
Use bold, simple coloring books and pencils with adapted grips, chunky crayons, and thick, hexagonal-shaped markers to maximize these benefits.
Safety is also key – provide full supervision, remove hazards, check art supplies, and stop activities if frustration arises.
This article summarizes the recommendations from my recent YouTube video on products and tips for coloring with dementia. Plus, I’ve added some actionable advice to make coloring an enjoyable, stimulating activity that engages the minds of dementia patients in a safe environment.
Choosing the Right Coloring Books
Selecting the right coloring books is key to creating a positive experience for people with dementia.
- Look for books with bold lines, simple images, thick pages, and nostalgic themes.
- Avoid books with intricate details or complex surreal designs that may cause frustration.
- Prioritize easy-to-see outlines and familiar subjects to tap into enjoyable memories while coloring.
With the proper book, you can maximize the benefits and make coloring an engaging creative outlet. Here are the ones I demonstrated in the video.
The Large Print Stress-Free Coloring Book has a spiral binding and a mix of simple and more complex designs. It’s a good choice for those in the earlier stages of dementia who want some challenge.
The perforated pages allow completed artwork to be easily removed. The bold lines support visual decline while limiting frustration.
The Senior Coloring Book for Dementia has a left-handed orientation and a mix of simple designs with more intricate borders.
The medium page thickness allows the use of various coloring tools. The simple images keep things achievable while detailed edges provide complexity for capable colorists.
The Simple Coloring Book for Seniors features floral themes with shapes that are relatively easy to color. The focus is on approachable, uncomplicated artwork suitable for those with visual or motor impairment. Large objects minimize going outside the lines for a satisfying experience.
The Adult Coloring Book for Relaxation contains primarily flower scenes. It has a range of complexity but overall leans simpler for dementia patients.
Uplifting messages provide a positive element to boost mood while coloring. This book taps into nostalgic nature themes.
The Mindful Patterns Coloring Book uses repetitive mandala-style designs for stress relief. The meditative dot-to-dot themes allow relaxing coloring that is calming for the mind. Bold outlines support those with declining vision who want a meditative activity.
The Easy Coloring Book by Jade Summer has very simple designs with bold, dark lines. The basic images like flowers, butterflies, and shapes are uncomplicated yet shaded areas create visual interest.
Thick outlines provide definition for those with declining eyesight. This book allows people with more advanced dementia to experience success with uncomplicated, nostalgic themes.
See more recommended coloring books for seniors and the elderly here
Picking the Best Coloring Tools
Adaptive coloring tools allow people with dementia to color with greater ease and independence.
- Look for chunky crayons, markers, and pencils in bright colors that are easy to see and grip.
- Non-toxic washable supplies minimize mess concerns.
- Tools with multiple grip options accommodate different dexterity levels.
- Foam grips further aid holding. Dual-tip markers enable switching between thick and thin lines.
With the right supplies, people with dementia can reap the full benefits of creative expression through coloring.
- Make standard pencils easier to grasp
- Provide cushioning for arthritic hands
- Slip on and off easily
- Can tear or fall off pencils if pulled too hard
- May not fit on large or oddly-shaped pencils
- Potential choking hazard
- Thicker shape and hexagonal design easier to hold
- Brighter colors for visual issues
- Less likely to roll off tables
- Require frequent sharpening
- May be hard to sharpen without a jumbo pencil sharpener
- Shapes support multiple grips
- Won’t mark skin
- Bright colors
- Prone to breaking if dropped
- Can mark on furniture
- Unlikely to mark clothing unless light colored
- Thicker shape for easier grasp
- Provides option of thin or thick lines
- Bold and vibrant colors
- Can dry out quickly
- Tips can be damaged if pressed too hard
- Ink can stain skin and bleed through paper
- Lids can be choking hazards
Infographic: Coloring with Dementia
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Setting Your Loved One Up for Success
- Remind them coloring doesn’t have to be perfect
- Focus on the creative process rather than the end result
- Offer encouragement and praise their efforts
- Let them color at their own pace without pressure
- Take breaks to avoid hand cramps or fatigue
- Stop if they become overly frustrated or agitated
- Store unfinished work so they can continue later
- Provide a lap desk or clipboard if coloring from a chair
- Place paper on coloring surface to minimize mess and clean up
The key is providing a frustration-free environment where creativity can flourish. With the right tools and encouragement, coloring can be an enjoyable activity that stimulates the mind.
Ensuring Safety While Coloring
- Check for broken or damaged supplies before use
- Opt for non-toxic washable crayons, markers, or colored pencils in case of accidental ingestion, spills or marks on furniture.
- Store coloring tools in a sealed container to prevent misplacement and potential ingestion.
- Supervise closely if the person has a tendency to put non-edibles in their mouth or a history of pica. Redirect gently.
- Select thermal or spiral-bound books without sharp staples/spines that could scratch.
- Choose coloring books with thicker paper to reduce the chance of paper cuts
- Minimize potential choking hazards like small grips, marker lids, or broken crayon pieces
- Check the skin for ink marks or imprints from gripping tools too hard after sessions.
- Take note of any skin irritation or allergies to certain art materials.
- Set up the coloring area away from dangers like windows, electrical cords, or clutter.
With preparation, supervision, and adaptive tools, coloring can be an engaging activity that stimulates creativity for people with dementia in a safe manner.
Let me know if you have any other safety or success tips in the comments below!