Recently, I developed an Orchard’s Bird coloring page for older people (with few sight and fine motor troubles). My sister, an occupational therapist, tested the suitability and effect in a group of elderly without dementia. Participants were seniors with, amongst others, CVA, rheumatism, communication and emotional problems. Only those with sufficient eye vision, hand-eye coordination and those who were able to hold a pencil and color, participated in the activity.
Enjoyment & mood improvement
Older people may color more slowly, but in general, they still enjoy the activity and maintain their urge to obtain a nice result. Their daily struggles definitely make it harder. Given sufficient motivation to color the entire illustration, they did show the strength to do it. They were also enthusiastic about their results being put on a wall afterwards. This mood improvement, however, was only temporary.
Satisfaction & outlet for self-expression
A few residents (the post-stroke patient & the person with emotional problems) were somewhat frustrated because their coloring ‘wasn’t pretty enough’, but then again self-reported they enjoyed the activity.
- The person with social communication problems colored in very structured manner.
- The post-stroke patient did have to be handed out different colors in order to not color the entire image in the same color.
Socialization and reminiscing
The coloring pages were clear stimuli for reminiscing. "Oh, I've done this when..." When done in group, the activity evoked social interactions between the residents without dementia. Which also changed their moods in a positive manner.
Are you a therapist? Would you like some test samples for seniors? Be sure to let me know!