Why Manual Dexterity is Important for Seniors

As we age, it’s difficult to maintain that dexterity that we had in our youth. Some conditions cause our hands to shake, or lose grip strength, or our bones to weaken, so it’s more important than ever to truly embrace keeping even your hands in shape!

There are lots of reasons that seniors may need a little extra help maintaining their manual dexterity as they age. Things like osteoporosis, carpal tunnel, and arthritis can affect the bones and joints of even the most careful seniors. Because of this, it’s important to follow the advice of your doctors as well as use some of the exercises below to keep your strength up!

At our Carlsbad retirement communities, we have a wide array of activities to keep you up and active and keep your hands moving. With our painting classes, cooking classes, and more, we strive to keep both your body and mind engaged in fun activities to help promote your wellness. 


1.) Clenching and Unclenching Your Fist

One of the easiest exercises that you can do to help maintain that dexterity is to simply clench and unclench your fist! Squeeze your hand in a fish for as hard as you can manage for about five seconds, and then release. Do this with both hands. This will help you increase your strength and your dexterity!


2.) Learning a Musical Instrument

Learning how to play an instrument is not only great for your senior’s cognitive workouts, but it’s also great for keeping strength and dexterity in your fingers. The muscles in your fingers needed to press tabs or pluck strings can help you keep your hands and fingers flexible and active. If you don’t think that learning a new instrument is something that you feel like you’re able to do, clapping your hands or snapping your fingers along to the beat is a great option!


3.) Practicing Your Handwriting

A great way to help strengthen and improve the dexterity in your hands and fingers is to practice your handwriting! Try to learn a new skill like lettering design or calligraphy, or simply write letters to your friends and family. It’s a great way to work out your hands and your brain both, and it gives your loved ones a fun way to communicate with you that isn’t only through the phone!

Also, don’t forget to try writing with your non-dominant hand! It’s easy to practice handwriting with your dominant hand, but your non-dominant hand definitely takes more of a workout.


4.) Make Clay Art

Even if you aren’t a big arts and crafts person, a great way to stretch out the muscles in your hands and fingers is to work with clay! In the art classes here at our Carlsbad retirement communities, see if the event coordinators have some clay to work with. The act of smashing it, rolling it, and molding it with your fingers is a great workout for your hands.

You don’t even have to actually sculpt anything with it! Roll it out, cut it into shapes with cookie cutters, or even mix buttons or beads into it to fish them out! Clay is just fun to squish, and the benefit is that it’s great for your hand strength too!


5.) Take Up Knitting or Sewing

Knitting or sewing is an amazing way to help with the strength and dexterity in your fingers! Crocheting, embroidery, cross-stitching, and more are great ways to create small, cute items while still strengthening the muscles in your hands! You can give these items as gifts that your family, friends, and other loved ones will cherish, or you can make them for yourself to decorate your apartment in our Carlsbad retirement communities. It’s a win for everyone involved!

A senior woman works on knitting a sweater


6.) Start Practicing Origami

If you don’t know what origami is, it’s the Japanese art of paper folding into different shapes and patterns. Origami is best performed with specified folding paper, and takes some practice to get just right. However, the best part about learning something new and specialized like this is that it’s always easy to find some kind of tutorial! 

If you aren’t sure how to start looking, ask a friend or a loved one to help you find a book, or a class, or even a YouTube video. Once you’ve got some paper to fold, you’re good to go!


7.) Sort Some Small Items

It might seem like a boring activity, but sorting some small items, even while you’re doing something else like watching tv or reading, can really improve the dexterity in your fingers! Grab a basket of small, mismatched items like beads, pasta, buttons, coins, etc. and a way to sort them. A great way to do this is with an ice cube tray!

As you watch your show, pick through the bucket of tiny odds and ends and sort them into groups in your ice cube tray. Picking up these tiny items is great for finger strength and dexterity, and you don’t even have to focus your entire attention on it!


Bayshire Carlsbad Retirement Communities

Here at Bayshire Carlsbad, we take pride in our Carlsbad retirement communities. We want to provide a happy, healthy, and safe space for seniors without forcing them to give up the comforts of home and the excitement of trying something new. 

That is why we feel it’s of vital importance for seniors to be able to keep the strength and dexterity in their hands. It’s amazing how many things you cannot do or connections you may lose without the use of your hands! Activities like our painting and cooking classes are great for keeping your hands moving, and our staff is always willing to give you pens, paper, and more for drawing, writing, or even origami folding. 

If you’re interested in living here in our incredible facility at Bayshire Carlsbad, then contact us and schedule a tour today!