Keeping a Hold on things: 6 Ways to Maintain Manual Dexterity as You Age

Published on August 21, 2023

As you age, it is not uncommon for your manual dexterity to deteriorate. For most people, dexterity maintains itself until the age of about 65. At this point bone density and the strength of the tendons in the hand decreases by 30-50% with aging. Additionally, older hands and fingers are especially prone to arthritis, which results in pain, swelling, joint deformities, restricted ranges of motion and the ability to grip and hold objects.

So, what can be done to counter these challenges that can come with aging? There are various exercises, activities and hobbies that can help you to maintain your manual dexterity as you age. Here are two exercises, two activities, and two hobbies you can do that will promote strength and enhance the health and function in your hands and fingers.


Begin with your hand up and fingers straight. Create an ‘O’ shape by connecting your thumb to your index finger, and then to your middle finger. Continue this movement through the rest of your fingers. Rest and then repeat with your other hand.

Extend each arm in front of you with your palm facing the floor. Bend your wrist pointing the tips of your fingers towards the floor. With your opposite hand, gently continue to bend your wrist towards you until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds and then switch to the other arm and repeat.


When working on a jigsaw puzzle, the repetitive motions of flipping up the pieces as well as finding their places and connecting them accordingly will help to maintain and strengthen manual dexterity.

Although it may be a surprise, controller-based video games can be great for your hands. Many of these games rely on fast reflexes that will be controlled by your hands. Additionally, when maneuvering the toggles and buttons during the game, grip and joint motion are positively impacted.


While the act of making pottery is gentle on the body, it can also strengthen your hands, wrists, and arms. Additionally, for those with arthritis, pottery can be helpful as it promotes dexterity and joint movement.

The act of sewing by hand incorporates very intricate and precise movements while maneuvering and grasping small items. This type of hobby is beneficial to seniors as it helps them to practice their dexterity. If sewing by hand becomes too difficult, using a sewing machine can still provide exercise and movement to the hands and fingers, helping to maintain function.

All in all, it is important to continue doing exercises and activities that involve manual strengths and movements, as well as maintaining a routine that incorporates hobbies that enhance dexterity.


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