Help find my mom some projects.
January 10, 2012 7:57 PM   Subscribe

My elderly mother needs a project or three to do during the winter. What can you suggest?

She's 80 and has pretty serious arthritis. In the last year she had to give up what was her biggest and most enjoyable activity of the last 17 years, writing the church newsletter, she gave up mostly because she was worried about missing deadlines.

Her sight and mind are good but her hand dexterity and general mobility are poor. She gave up crochet long ago (hands won't move correctly) though she is still quite crafty. She can sew but is unhappy that she can't do it as well as she used to. She loves to cook. She writes a lot of letters and has already organized every photo album and scrapbook in the family, and traced our family trees back more generations than I can count. She still enjoys tending the garden when the weather is nice, and keeps a lot of indoor plants, but now that it's cold she's going stir-crazy. She hates doing things for herself, but loves doing thongs for others. Something that could keep her active, not sitting in a chair, but moving about an hour or two a day for a few months would be perfect. She also lives in a rural area and the roads get unpleasant in the winter, so if it's something that can be done alone at home, all the better.
posted by Ookseer to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you set her up with speech recognition on her computer so she can do writing again. She might need someone to help with editing and layout but at least she could write the articles.

What about decoupage - cutting and gluing. My grandmother used make boxes and tv-trays for friends and family using photos and clippings that fit a theme for that person.

Could she volunteer to do genealogy for others in the church? Getting the information and discussing what she finds would give her social contact and I am sure the other person would be very grateful.
posted by metahawk at 9:00 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup: I was thinking Dragon or something to continue her writing. Seems a shame to give it up.

And can she still drive? I know my nana was able to bring a lot of happiness to a lot of people simply by being able to get them to church on Sunday or craft meet-up on Tuesday afternoons or the bridge game at the senior center on Fridays. And it gave her some valuable company, too.
posted by feistycakes at 9:14 PM on January 10, 2012

If she likes fiber crafts, what about something like needle felting? It's a lot of hand movements, but they aren't as precise and finicky as crochet.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:26 PM on January 10, 2012

* Make latch-hook rugs.

* If there is a nearby thrift store or somesuch that takes clothing donations, some of those items could probably use mending.
posted by maurreen at 10:35 PM on January 10, 2012

I know a grandfather with arthritis in his hands who really loves latch-hook rugs. One secret is to get a latch hook with a fat handle that is easier to grip.
posted by metahawk at 10:51 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could see if one of the younger church members would like to come over to co-author the newsletter with her. That way she'd get to socialize and putter around making tea and cookies for their visits and still do her beloved activity. I know several people who would totally be up for doing that with an elder.

I also have a friend who in college sought out elder women for a linguistics project - she came to them and tape recorded them reminiscing about their lives, gave transcripts to the local library, and then analyzed their speech. So you could see if there are local students interested in elder projects.

Craft-wise, you could introduce her to watercolor paints and a standing easel. I know she may think her hands will stop her, but especially if she's not so much about contour lines I think she'd be fine.

She could make winter jams to give or sell.

She could either adopt or temporarily foster an animal(s) from a local shelter.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:57 PM on January 10, 2012

Is there a meals on wheels in her area? She may be able to volunteer helping put the meals together in deliverable packages. It wouldn't require fine movements, but it'd get her out and doing something and helping people.
posted by lemniskate at 5:07 AM on January 11, 2012

What about paper crafts, like scrapbooking or making cards or just organizing her (or your) photos into books? It may require cutting, but sometimes that can be done with a papercutter; maybe stamping would work too?
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:57 AM on January 11, 2012

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