When winter’s chill makes getting outside difficult, birdwatching from a window can be the perfect activity for engaging someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. A simple homemade feeder like the craft below is all you need to get started in attracting a wide range of local birds to your yard during the winter when food supplies are scarce.
Birdwatching has been so enjoyable for those with dementia that the Audubon Society has developed a whole program called Bird Tales to best enhance the experience for them. The Bird Tales book is available along with a training DVD for facilities who want to launch their own program or caregivers looking to use the ideas in their home.
Depending on what stage of dementia your loved one is experiencing, books identifying local birds can also be helpful in keeping their mind active. There are general books available for birds in North America as well as books that target specific regions of the country.
While there are many types of bird feeders available, making your own has the added benefit of being a fun craft you and your loved one can do together to stay engaged and mentally active this winter. Follow the instructions below to make an easy bird feeder that can be hung outside your window.
Coffee Cup Bird Feeder
What You’ll Need:
- A coffee mug
- One cup of all-natural peanut butter
- Two cups of birdseed
- A mixing bowl
- A large spoon
- A small stick about 6 inches long
- Ribbon for hanging
- Add the birdseed to your mixing bowl.
- Add the peanut butter and use the spoon to mix well.
- Fill your mug with the birdseed/peanut butter mixture.
- Push the stick into the mixture at the side of the mug opposite the handle to make a perch.
- Place in the freezer for 3 hours or until frozen solid.
- Tie the ribbon onto each side of the handle so the mug hangs evenly.
- Place outside a window where it is easily visible.
See more activities for dementia patients.
- Please use all-natural peanut butter. It's better for the birds and it pours easier.
- While doing activities with a loved one with dementia, engage them in conversation. Play music they enjoy softly in the background to create a positive mood.
- Even though your loved one may not remember names or things that happened in recent days, they may still remember their childhood.
- Activities for people with dementia have the best chance of success early in the day when your loved one is well rested. If they don’t want to participate or get frustrated, don’t force it. Try again another time.
- Choose a brightly colored coffee mug so it stands out in the winter landscape.
- The peanut butter mix works best when temperatures are below 45°F.
- Once you’ve mastered this easy bird feed recipe, you may want to try something more interesting. Check out these homemade suet recipes for a variety of options.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to support patients with dementia and their families. Please call us at 1-888-564-3405 to learn more about how our unique care programs help provide a higher quality of life for dementia patients while helping caregivers avoid burnout.
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