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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

What Is A Busy Box?

By Carla Berscheit, Dementia Care Specialist, Dunn Country ADRC





A busy box can take on several looks.  It can be a simple shoebox with photos and other keepsakes that are important to the person with dementia.  It can also be a collection of items the person is interested in at this time (such as scarves, buttons, nuts and bolts, etc.).  Consider what your person likes and gather items related to that.  The benefit of a busy box is to provide an enjoyable activity for them to engage in.  A busy box activity can provide a calming activity and may prevent rummaging through drawers and cupboards, when they appear to be “looking for something”; which may not be safe.  Busy boxes can be useful if you are trying to distract or redirect your loved one.


Here are some examples of busy boxes:


  • Sorting tasks – using a muffin tin, ice cube tray or small containers, as the person to sort buttons, nuts and bolts, barrettes or costume jewelry.

  • Household tasks – matching socks, folding washcloths and hand towels, cleaning/dusting small items. 

  • Photos – provide a stack of photos and ask them to put them in a small photo album

  • Greeting cards – provide a box of greeting cards and envelopes and ask your person to put an envelope with each card or sort the cards by occasion.

  • Fabrics– for those that like sewing (but may not be able to do anymore) sorting fabrics by color, organizing thread by color, and/or looking at patterns and pictures of items they have created in the past.

  • Fibers – for those that like knitting or crocheting (but may not be able to do anymore) could sort small balls of yarn by color and look at pattern books.

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