There’s more to taking care of your elderly parents than the typical tasks and responsibilities that go with caregiving. In fact, taking a break to do something fun and creative can benefit all of you by relieving stress and giving you time to bond. Additionally, there are very real benefits to all types of crafting. For example, crafting can improve mood, relieve anxiety, and soothe chronic pain. It can also help protect the brain from the damage that naturally occurs with age. Immersing yourself and your parents in a creative activity provides moments of focus on the task at hand that allows problems and other things going on outside of the activity to fall away.
In  a 2004 TED Talk, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described the phenomenon of creativity as being in a state of flow, a state with effects similar to meditation. He further explained, “When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. You know what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears.”
Give yourself and your loved ones the ability to take a timeout from everything else going on by making time to create something. By making a memory book together, not only will you reap the benefits of doing something creative but you’ll have a chance to take a walk down memory lane while making something you can all cherish for a long time to come. Research suggests there are substantial benefits to creative crafting. Explore these benefits to your mood and brain, along with tips to help get you started on your next project.
Mood Boosting Benefits
If  you’re looking for things to do with your aging parents that might help them feel better, crafting may very well be the ideal option. It’s something that everyone can get involved in, no matter if they’re young, old, or somewhere in between.
Even better, research suggests creative activities provide an outlet to help regulate emotions while releasing dopamine, the neurotransmitter released during pleasurable activities. This boost continues every time you look at the finished product, providing a natural way to fight depression and boost mood. Other benefits include:
- Stress reduction
- Building self-esteem
- Easing insomnia and sleep difficulties
- Reduced restlessness and irritability
- Help with grief processing
Can Making a Memory Book Boost Your Loved One’s Brain Activity?
Creative  activities like crafting and making memory books can help stimulate the brain, improve reasoning skills, boost cognitive abilities and bring pleasures to an aging parents life. Neuroscientists believe the brain is flexible and capable of adapting, which is why performing stimulating activities and engaging in creativity can be so beneficial.
It’s also an opportunity to reflect on wonderful memories. This forces your loved ones to access their procedural memory, which is a type of long-term memory tied to activities that are deeply ingrained, such as walking or a song that gets stuck in your head. For someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, even as conscious memories decline procedural memory remains intact. Performing activities that access procedural memory can create meaningful outcomes. In addition to encouraging your loved ones to engage, these activities can also improve quality of life and soothe negative emotions, according to The Advocate.
Tips for Making a Memory Book
Engaging  in activities for aging parents can be a wonderful opportunity to spend time together outside of everyday caregiving tasks. To get started on making a memory book, consider these helpful tips:
- Begin by choosing the format: For example, do you want to use a photo album or scrapbook? Or do you want to create it digitally to have it printed professionally?
- Involve family and friends: Others might have access to more photos and memories than you and your parents, enabling you to weave a rich tapestry of memories.
- Don‘t overlook the hard times: Even challenging times and difficult experiences are worthy of honoring and remembering.
- Interview the cast: Getting more than one perspective on different stories you’re telling can add depth to your memory book.