Suggestions from Kerr Medical

Elderly patients with dementia or Alzheimer's may express distress or agitation with restless hands. Researchers from John Hopkins University and the University of Michigan Medical School found evidence that non-drug approaches can effectively address dementia or Alzheimer's symptoms like agitation and anxiety. The Kerr Medical team compiled these suggestions for caregivers who notice patients with restless hands.

Activities to Help with Restlessness

  • Play Familiar Music. Since brain areas linked to musical memories are less damaged by dementia or Alzheimer's, playing music can relieve stress in elderly patients. Music also gives caregivers an opportunity to reconnect with seniors who may struggle to communicate.  Patients can channel restless hand energy into clapping to the rhythm of the music. Those with mobility can reduce anxiety by dancing with others.
  • Visit the Outdoors. Taking a 10 to 15-minute walk outdoors, or quietly sitting outside in the sunshine can provide seniors with a beneficial break, especially when stress levels are high. Restless hands can focus on touching and smelling flowers or pulling weeds.
  • Give a Hand Massage. A recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows patients willing to accept a hand massage from caregivers responded positively. Cortisol, a hormone associated with cognitive decline, dropped, and patient agitation diminished after a brief (~5 minute) hand massage. 
  • Adjust Room Décor.  A brightly lit, organized living space helps your senior easily navigate around the room and locate belongings. Use tags to identify the contents of drawers and cupboards. Make sure the room includes favorite bedding, pillows, and photos. An air diffuser with lavender can help reduce anxiety. Organizing the items in an everyday purse or wallet can give older adults comfort and give restless hands a focused activity.
  • Engage in Cognitive Activities. Small chores, like folding fabric or organizing paper, can calm restless hands. The soothing repetition of knitting or crocheting is also relaxing. Puzzles and other sensory tools like activity aprons, lacing cards, or fidget boxes provide engagement and distraction.

Safe Products for Seniors

Kerr Medical carries a range of sensory stimulation products to help elderly patients with restless hands.

  • Activity Muffs have an outer surface that provides tactile stimulation. The muffs contain a squeezable ball, marble-sized beads to manipulate in a sealed pouch, and trims, buttons, ribbons, and beads for additional engagement.
  • Gel Pads, available in a variety of shapes and colors, provide visual and tactile involvement. Some options, like the Tic Tac Toe gel pad, help patients maintain hand dexterity and eye-hand coordination while providing a social connection.
  • Sensory Aprons help with restless hands and boredom. Seniors can practice thread grommets, buttoning and unbuttoning, closing, and opening a zipper and Velcro strap.
  • A Number/Color Association Pad adds cognitive challenges while improving hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity. This tool encourages older adults to practice count sequences, color comparison and recognition, and number comparisons.

You can order these products and others in our catalog online or by calling 888.254.3444. Our team is available to answer your questions. We want to ease the distress of the elderly patient or parent in your life.
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