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Rummage Box for Dementia

(28 Posts)
SuzannahM Sat 09-Jan-21 14:00:26

Hi everyone
I am making a 'rummage box' for my DF who has dementia (Parkinsons). Something to keep his hands and mind busy basically. I am looking for ideas for things to put in the box. So far I have
- a cuddly toy
- a small photograph album with pics of the family
- a small jigsaw made from a pic of him and my DM
- a stress ball and soft tennis ball that he can 'scrunch' and squeeze
- crayons and a small notepad with strong paper to draw on

I've seen a special Rubiks cube with less squares per side but don't know if that would drive my DM demented if it squeaks!

Can anyone think of anything else small that he could fiddle with? His dementia is now quite advanced, so books and anything that requires him to be mentally aware are pretty much out of the question, and I don't want anything too babyish.

BlueBelle Sat 09-Jan-21 14:15:16

I d find some pre decimal coins especially like a threepenny bit and maybe a joey may bring back some memories, do you have any old fashioned sweet shop lots of towns have them now ....perhaps a few twiddle things like a kitted square with a button or two or a knitted flower etc on , a couple of dice he may not understand the numbers but may like seeing the numbers and feeling the different sides to them what about jacks he may have played with them as a child ( try a charity shop when there open )

Grannmarie Sat 09-Jan-21 14:16:33

Susannah, that is a lovely comfort resource you are creating for your dear Dad.

Maybe add a small snow globe or kaleidoscope for pretty visual effects?
A magnifying glass, a small mirror?
A small purse with loose change to handle?

Sending best wishes to you in your caring role. My sisters and I cared for our lovely Mum for 10 years, dementia is a cruel disease, we just want our loved ones to be safe and content.

SuzannahM Sat 09-Jan-21 14:26:26

Thank you so much for responding Bluebelle and Grannmarie, and for your suggestions.

Old coins I could certainly find, I did think of marbles too but I'm a bit scared he might try and eat them! He gets a bit confused at times about what he can eat and what he can't. I could probably put some coins in a zip up bag. I do have some dice I could put in.

A snow globe could be good too. His sight has deteriorated a lot but he would be able to see that. He was an engineer in the RAF for many years and still tries to take things apart, so that's something else I have to be aware of - or my DM will end up having to put it back together!

OmavanderSloot Sat 09-Jan-21 14:33:48

My mom's psychiatrist recommended a doll, with blanket, bottle, etc.

SuzannahM Sat 09-Jan-21 14:39:53

OmavanderSloot I'm not quite sure what my Dad would make of a doll, but thank you !

Daddima Sat 09-Jan-21 14:39:59

My friend is involved in this, and they have had some great results.

I did try it for the Bodach, whose dementia was relatively mild before he died, but it made him very emotional listening to ‘his’ music, and, mysteriously, the ipod disappeared!

Daddima Sat 09-Jan-21 14:42:29

Sorry, I meant to say that I can’t help with suggestions for your box, but maybe he’d like some ‘ executive toys’ if they’re still a thing. They used to be promoted as stress relievers.

Willow73 Sat 09-Jan-21 14:48:10

Crochet an octopus. They are given to dementia sufferers and premature babies, so they can twist and hold onto the tenticles.

SuzannahM Sat 09-Jan-21 14:49:14

Actually Dadimma that might be a good idea - remember those ones that had a line of metal balls hanging off a pole, and you drop the end one which then knocks on all the others? Can't think how to describe that better grin I'll have a look around

SuzannahM Sat 09-Jan-21 14:54:45

Newton's Cradle ! That's what it's called ! Duh.

kittylester Sat 09-Jan-21 14:57:09

What did your father do when he worked?

I help deliver courses for Carer's of people living with dementia and things I have heard of include a man who worked in a bank very happily recounting money and a woman resorting socks all the time.

Our libraries, when they were open, could access memory boxes with specific themes including transport, the seaside etc.

Also, in those boxes are Ladybird books from a particular era.

You could also make him a playlist to play through Alexa (other devices are available grin) and there is a dementia radio station which I think is just called Dementia Radio.

kittylester Sat 09-Jan-21 15:00:17

Link to dementia radio.

Even if you DF didn't like music, music often strikes a chord.

BladeAnnie Sat 09-Jan-21 15:01:15

Has he had a twiddlemuff? My daughter is a nurse on an elderly medical ward and they use them all the time for dementia patients. This is hand knitted "muff" with lots of buttons, pom poms and other safe fiddly bits. If anyone wants a knitting pattern or any further info don't hesitate to send me a pm

Oldbat1 Sat 09-Jan-21 15:02:17

We are lucky enough to have kept old postcards which were rummaged through by mil. Old buttons in a tin were also a favourite. Old time music too if able to access something to play on. An Alexa is useful as it will play different decades of music and different types when asked obviously needs supervision. A baby tactile square of different materials and different crinkle sounds too. Best wishes.

SuzannahM Sat 09-Jan-21 15:16:33

kittylester thank you. My Dad was an engineer, most of his life in the RAF, then in a factory until he retired. He does still like to take things apart, if he can. Unfortunately my Mam doesn't always know how to put them back together grin

He really only likes jazz music and big bands - he has a huge collection of records that he used to listen to a lot. My Mam hates jazz, but doesn't mind big bands so she plays his records for him now and then. That's a double edged sword though - as soon as he hears the strains of Glenn Miller he tries to get up for a dance, and of course he can't stand up. If he manages to stand up his balance goes very quickly and he ends up on the floor.

SuzannahM Sat 09-Jan-21 15:19:58

Willow73 and BladeAnnie - thanks for that. I was trying to remember what a twiddle muff was called! He doesn't have one but I'm making one with thee help of You Tube. My fingers can't seem to manage knitting needles much, but I might be able to crochet enough. It doesn't have to be too neat thankfully grin

SuzannahM Sat 09-Jan-21 15:27:47

Oldbat1 we don't have postcards but instead what I can do is print our some of his old black and white photos taken in Singapore, Germany, Aden, etc., from his RAF days and put them in a bag. I know he remembers them, or did a year ago which was the last time I saw him sad, so he would probably enjoy picking through them. Thanks for the idea!
We've done a small album of pictures just of family as well.

BladeAnnie Sat 09-Jan-21 15:57:13

SuzannahM - I've almost finished one and as my daughter's ward is becoming a dedicated covid ward, they are not able to accept them atm. If you would like this, you are more than welcome - however I won't be offended if you want to make one yourself smile

Jane10 Sat 09-Jan-21 18:11:45

Fidget spinners? They're out of fashion with the grandchildren now so might be some spare?

Ngaio1 Sat 09-Jan-21 18:14:15

Blubelle. You want OP to put a baby Kangaroo in a box?!

bikergran Sat 09-Jan-21 18:17:06

Sets of measuring spoons, you can buy plastic or metal ones.

There are childrens/baby toys that are like a ring with beads on, very secure and colorful, think they were meant for teething.

SueDonim Sat 09-Jan-21 18:26:34

My friend’s husband has dementia and is in a special unit. He has a new occupational therapist who has been brilliant. At the end of his career, our friend was very much office-based. His OT has provided him with paper, some coloured Manila files and pens/pencils and he now spends time happily shuffling the papers around, putting them in and out of files and ‘writing’ on them.

I know you don’t want baby toys for your father but there are some lovely children’s activities available that might occupy your dad’s hands. Melissa & Doug wooden products are well made and tactile. Some of these are out of stock but they’ll give you an idea.

Susiewong65 Sat 09-Jan-21 20:11:21

How about a key ring with keys on it or magnets that can be joined together or taken apart easily.

Marilla Sat 09-Jan-21 20:15:23

This may be a silly suggestion but what about some lego models? They can be made over and over again ranging from easy to very difficult.