Activity Boxes

By Ella Clayton


Dementia is a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. There were an estimated 46.8 million people living with dementia globally in 2015. More recently, it was estimated that 50 million people were living with dementia globally in 2017. This number almost doubles every 20 years, so it is estimated that 75 million people in 2030 and 131.5 million people in 2050 will be living with dementia. There are over 9.9 million new cases of dementia every year worldwide, a new case of dementia is diagnosed every 3.2 seconds. It is estimated that 50.4% of nursing home residents have some form of dementia. These patients need special care and tools to provide them the best quality of life.

            One of the tools used to care for dementia patients are activity boxes. These boxes are meant to foster resident engagement in meaningful life tasks and roles. Activity boxes provide residents with a sense of purpose and belonging and utilize resident’s cognitive and physical capabilities. They also decrease unwanted behavior in dementia patients, such as agitation and wandering. Successful activity boxes are one designed to a specific individual and their capabilities.

            There are three key points to remember when creating activity boxes for dementia patients. The first is creating the resident’s life story. Items in an activity box should be tailored to the individual and include aspects of their life such as their occupation, hobbies, and areas of interest. The second key point is to remember the dementia stage. Residents with mid-stage dementia are living 46-50 years ago in their mind, and their activity boxes should reflect that and use occupations and hobbies of that time period. Activity boxes should also be tailored to the stage of dementia each patient is in. Mid stage residents like to “fiddle” with objects with their hands, early stage dementia residents are grasping onto life roles so their boxes should include hobbies and occupations in the past 20 years, and residents with late stage dementia need items that provide sensory-motor stimulation. The third key point is to keep the activity box task oriented. They should include a task to complete with the resident’s hands.

            Some ideas for activity boxes are laundry kits, jewelry kits, tool boxes, fishing kits, silverware kits, game kits, sewing kits, and baby kits. Although activity boxes should be tailored to the individual, these ideas are great to build off of. Vertis therapy advocates the use of activity boxes to provide the highest quality of life for dementia patients!