Why you should be using pre-made activity boxes

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Christine’s dementia had progressed, but her very-successful morning routine was still the same. Every morning, Christine’s son would wake her up, get her seated at the dining room table, and prepare her breakfast. While he was getting that ready to go, he’d take out a box of towels from under the table. “Mom, I have a ton of laundry to do today. Can you please help me with these?” he’d ask. He’d put all the towels on the table and then watch as his mother went to work. It was a fantastic way to get her day started, wake her up a little more before breakfast, and help her to feel successful before 8 AM. 

I’ve used activity boxes in every single home care or dementia care community I’ve ever worked in. They are so easy and fun to make, and they make every day better in dementia care.

All you need is a bin with a lid and some imagination. I’ve filled bins with items like:

  • Socks to sort
  • Hand towels to fold
  • Faux flowers to arrange in vases
  • Silverware to organize
  • Poker chips to stack

…and much, much more.

These boxes can be used to break up boredom, add some extra activities during the day, or simply provide hands-on cognitive stimulation when nothing else seems to be working.

While most of us hate doing chores, many people with dementia feel useful and successful after completing these activity boxes. 

Here’s the key: don’t ask if the person with dementia WANTS to do it. Ask them if they “can help you” work on the task. You’re almost always going to get a positive response.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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