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Easy Exercises for Seniors to Improve Manual Dexterity

By Nikhil Mehta, 9:00 am on

Maintaining hand dexterity is important for seniors. The ability to manage fine motor skills and keep hands strong is an important part of helping seniors remain independent and able to perform care tasks for themselves for as long as possible. Palm Desert 24 care providers can recommend some exercises to help your senior loved one improve and strengthen his or her manual dexterity. 

Finger Lifts

If your senior loved one has difficulty with dexterity in specific fingers, this strengthening exercise is a great option. Have your senior loved one lay his or her palm on a flat surface such as a table. Encourage your loved one to lift each finger off the table, one at a time. This sounds easy but can actually be quite a challenge with the pinkie and the finger next to it, which often want to lift together. Encourage your senior loved one to focus on getting that fourth finger up without moving the pinkie. This is an exercise that musicians use to help with their own dexterity when preparing to play instruments that require each finger to move independently of the others. Have your loved one repeat this exercise with each finger five times at first and ten times later on.

Writing Variations

Encourage your senior loved one to try two new ways of writing with this fun dexterity exercise. First, challenge him or her to pick up a pen or a pencil and write with it, all without using the thumb. This can be challenging, but it can also be entertaining to see the results of just how much we depend on our thumb while writing. Next, encourage your loved one to try writing (thumb included) with his or her non-dominant hand. Often, the non-dominant hand is likely to lose manual dexterity faster than the dominant one since it isn’t being used for as many tasks. These exercises should be done once or twice a day for best results. 

Silly Putty

Remember that unusual substance Silly Putty that you could press onto comic strips and pull it away with the cartoon imprinted on it? Well, using this putty can actually improve manual dexterity. You can purchase a therapeutic type or just buy the name brand Silly Putty from your local store. You’ll likely want a couple packages of it to make a large sized ball for your senior loved one. Have your loved one play with the putty and give him or her a list of things to do with it, such as rolling out a snake or making it into a certain shape. You can also put items, like coins or buttons, inside the putty and challenge your loved one to get them out. This is a great way to strengthen the hands overall and will definitely improve fine motor function. It will also be fun for your senior loved one, so it can be done as often as he or she likes.

Manual dexterity is a simple yet important aspect of wellbeing for seniors as it helps them maintain independence while taking on activities of daily living. Some seniors require more help than others in this area, but fortunately help is only a phone call away. Contact Palm Desert Home Care Assistance at (760) 345-0001 today to give your loved one the help he or she needs to remain independent in the comfort of home. We provide senior home care Palm Desert seniors can rely on to help with daily tasks such as personal care, mobility training, and even housekeeping. Don’t forget to schedule a free in-home consultation today when you call.