Printable DIY card activity adapted for seniors living with dementia.
This easy, senior-friendly DIY card activity is perfect for individuals and groups. Super simple materials list. You probably have this stuff at home. Just print for an on-demand dementia activity.
You’re never too old to make and give greeting cards, and with a little simplification and adaption, this made a fantastic activity for Mom (stage 5 Alzheimer’s).
In addition to keeping her busy for several hours, it checked all of Mom’s activity requirements:
- it has a purpose,
- it’s enjoyable,
- it’s simple, but not juvenile,
- the final product looks good to her, and
- bonus – it’s something to give away.
And crafts that Mom is content to make multiples of are at the top of my dementia caregiver heck, yes, let me get this activity ready for her list. 🙌
Adapting the DIY card activity for seniors with dementia
For Mom’s card project, I decided to go with a super simple pre-printed card she could color or embellish. Something way less complicated than the amazing handmade cards crafters create, but more than just signing and stuffing cards in envelopes.
- I created cards she could color with a super basic design on the front. Since Valentine’s Day was approaching, I chose hearts.
- I designed the cards in 3 difficulty levels. This made for variety and also gave me the option to offer something more simple if Mom was having one of her more confused days.
- Rather than leave the inside of the card blank, I printed a message. That way all she needed to do on the inside was sign her name.
- I helped her create a list of people she would like to give a card. We scrolled through photos on my phone as a prompt.
- I created some sample cards to display to give her ideas on what the final product might look like.
- I included printable DIY envelopes to give the cards a more finished and store-bought card look. And because Mom loves to glue. 💁🏻♀️
Mom’s cards turned out great, and she had a blast making them. ❤️
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Here’s what you need to gather for this activity. It’s a short, easy list!
DIY Greeting Cards Activity Materials
- Premade cards with simple designs ready to color or embellish – Create your own, or use my ready to go printables! Details on how to get my printable cards and envelopes are at the end of this post.
- Markers, colored pencils, gel pens, or your senior’s preferred coloring instrument
- Stickers, optional – We used these to seal our envelopes. These would also be a great option for seniors who have trouble writing or coloring to decorate their cards.
- Other card embellishments, optional – You could really fancy up this activity with all kinds of embellishments.
- Scissors and Paper Cutter – If using the 5 X 7 cards with envelopes you’ll need scissors and a paper cutter to trim and cut.
- Glue – If using the envelope for my 5 X 7 cards you’ll need to glue the envelope together. We used Tacky Glue, but a glue stick would work, too.
How to make a DIY Greeting Card perfect for seniors with dementia
STEP 1 – Create (or use my printable) a simple card that can be colored or decorated.
Design the card – Use design software to create your card. I created my cards in Adobe Illustrator because I’m trying to learn how to use it, but you could easily do this using free software like Canva.com. The free version of Canva does a lot! It’s easy and pretty intuitive to use. Before I got on this Illustrator kick, I used Canva for almost everything.
Choose an appropriate difficulty level for your senior – Since the cards for this project were for Valentine’s Day, I went with simple hearts. I created 3 difficulty levels by varying the number of hearts and increasing the stroke thickness on the cards with fewer hearts to make those lines easier to color within. Choose an appropriate design element for your special occasion. Look for simple black and white designs. Canva.com has free elements as well as some offered for just $1.
Create the inside card message – Create a second page for the inside message of the card. If your senior is in an earlier dementia stage, they might want to write their own message. And if that’s the case, there’s no need to create a second page since it would just be blank. Writing the message would be challenging for my mom, and I know she would be unhappy with the result as her handwriting has really deteriorated. So I added a printed message to my cards.
Print your card – You’re going to be printing the card double-sided. For my printer, I had to rotate the inside message 180 degrees (see the picture below) so the card would print correctly. I used an HP inkjet printer and loaded the paper into the paper tray. Your printer might be different, so be sure to run a test page first to make sure everything turns out right side up!
Be sure to select double-sided printing in your printer menu.
If you’re using my printable, you’ll see I have the cards available in 2 sizes:
- 5.5 X 8.5 – This card is designed to use an entire sheet of USA 8.5 X 11 letter size paper. Just print and fold. There is no envelope for this size.
- 5 X 7 – This card is designed to be trimmed down to be a more natural “card size”. Use a paper cutter when trimming for best results. This size also comes with a fun DIY envelope.
Print the envelope – I wanted Mom’s cards to look “real”, so I created an envelope template for the 5 x 7 sized cards. If you’re using my printable, it’s part of the card file and will print right along with the card. You’ll need scissors to cut away the marked sections then fold and glue to create a perfectly sized envelope. We used colored card stock for our envelopes.
Paper – Using a high-quality thick paper will make your cards look really nice. I used this 60 lb color copy cover paper. It’s super white and slightly glossy, and it worked well with our markers. (We did get a little bleed through when using permanent markers, so be careful if you’re using those.) The cards turned out great! She was proud of them. ❤️
Step 2 – Time for your senior to get creative
Decorating the card – Pull out some markers and the card for your senior to color and or decorate. I kept a couple of sample cards close by for Mom to refer to. As always, I limited the number of markers she had available. Reducing the number of decisions she needs to make helps her stay on task and seems to reduce her confusion.
For each person on Mom’s list, we wrote their name on a Post-It. As she finished a card, she put the Post-It on the card to designate who it was for. This seemed to help keep her on task and provided some lovely reminiscing opportunities about each person. ❤️
Assemble the envelope – If you’re using my 5 X 7 printable, you’ll have an envelope to cut out and assemble. Cutaway the designated sections, fold, and glue. Mom needed some help on this part.
This was a great project! With some assistance, this craft is Alzheimer’s and dementia-friendly for those in the early to mid-stages.
From a caregiver perspective
We decided to do this activity on the spur of the moment, and I was able to put it together with materials I had on hand. Some days I enjoy setting up a more involved activity, but sometimes (honestly, most of the time) I need an activity that’s quick to put together, is something that Mom can do independently for the most part, and something that will take her more than a hot minute to complete. This activity was perfect. This would make a fantastic group activity as well.
Mom enjoyed this activity so much we will be making cards for future special occasions and holidays.
Get my printable greeting card files
Would you like to skip the design part of this activity and use my printable cards for your senior or group? The printable valentine cards along with other free dementia activity printables are available to my newsletter subscribers in my free resource library.
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