Helpful Hint for Senior Beaders

by Paula Hisel.
(Nicholasville, Kentucky USA)


I have been in the jewelry design business for 6 years, and about 8 months ago I was blessed with the opportunity to start teaching jewelry design classes.

The majority of my classes are held in senior centers and nursing homes. Because of the various physical limitations of my senior students, I have learned to alter my teaching techniques to adjust to their needs.

Due to vision difficulties, we use large holed beads and simple elastic string found in the sewing/craft department.

Many of my students suffer from severe arthritis, so it is hard to grip the string for long periods of time. It is crushing to them to drop their beads, especially when they have spent so much time working on them.

I started tying a keyring (large silver split ring) on the end of the string. The keyring slips on their finger like a regular ring, giving them greater control over their string, and making it harder to drop. Any large sized ring, like drapery rings, will work.

It has drastically reduced the amount of “drops” we have in class.

When they are finished stringing their beads, we tie it in a traditional square knot and cut the keyring off.

Just making these few adjustments has led to much happier students and larger class sizes.

Paula Hisel
Simply Beadiful

Information contained in this website should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. No products mentioned in this post have been tested or endorsed by Rena Klingenberg.


For senior beaders
by: Dita

Paula, You are so thoughtful to add these solutions.

I use a scotch tape at the end of a string and stick it to my beading tray or table top, this had helped me too.

Keep up your good work. Dita

new beaders
by: Cory

Very innovative… there is nothing worse than having beads suddenly drop and scatter.

Jewelry making workshop with Senior beaders
by: Rena

What a great idea, Paula! I love the idea of a jewelry making activity with Seniors, and that the finished project is one they can wear easily without dealing with a clasp.

And your ring innovation for making the project easier and less frustrating is fantastic.

Thanks so much for sharing this great idea!

Creative and Helpful Too!
by: Valerie J

What an innovative way to help your seniors stay involved and creative! I love that you are helping them stay active and explore ways to make beautiful projects at the same time. Bravo!

by: Debbie

I love this idea. My hands go numb at very wierd times. So this keyring idea will really help. Thank you

beading with senoirs <

by: Cheryl

Thank you for this great idea! Do you have any more helpful suggestions when one person is working with varied degrees of abilities 16-20 “Beading Beauties”?

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  • Ellie says:

    In my class we use those large black binder clips to clip the end of the string to the side of a “beading tray”. We make the tray from the bottom of a cardboard box and then place a beading pad in the tray. The walls of the tray should not be more than 1/2 ” high.
    This keeps the beads and string inside the tray and if the student drops a bead it falls in the tray.

  • Kim Honeycutt says:

    Thank you for the suggestion. I am an Activity Director at a Nursing Home. Love these ideas. Based on these recommendations, I will seek out Shoe Box tops for the tray and key chain loops. Big thanks…Kimberly

  • Kate says:

    Simplicity is the key to a brilliant solution. Good for you.

  • Julia says:

    Thanks for this great idea. I too have severe arthritis and constantly drop everything repeatedly. i use cookie trays, pizza trays, etc and put those jewelry pads you can buy at craft stores to line them. Keeps the beads from rolling around and I can work on my project where ever I please.

  • Phyllis C says:

    Paula – Thanks for the great tips! I’ve started teaching classes too, and the ideas for not losing the beads are brilliant! I use scotch tape or masking tape, but this is MUCH better. I love teaching, and a lot of my students are seniors too.

  • I love your spirit and I’m sure your senior students love it too! I think anyone who has the desire to work with a challenging population deserves a gemstone in their crown in heaven!

    I, too, have the “droppsies” when working on stringing projects. I’ve taken to wearing an apron spread across my lap when I’m working on this type of project.

    I know when folks age, their tolerance to air conditioning is lowered. They frequently wear a lap blanket which could also be an addition to the well thought out ideas you and the commenters have come up with! Their are so many ways to innovate when dealing with a challenging situation. I applauded each of you! Oh, and God bless you!

  • Karen Escalera says:

    Hi, as a senior crafter and jewelry maker I am so appreciative of your work in such places. I’m also thinking of doing so although my transportation situation is limited. Your’s and other’s suggestions on something to hold onto while stringing beads is amazingly simple and effective.
    Karen E.

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