When gerontologist Kristina Lubofsky, MS, noticed her grandmother – a recent widow newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – was spending too much time watching TV, she knew she had to put a stop to it.
She had been through it before—her grandmother was her third grandparent to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in six years. She learned from experience, as well as her gerontology studies, the importance of engaging older adults in activities that are fun and promote brain health.
She started bringing arts and crafts, puzzles and games to each visit. Sure enough, her grandmother shut off the TV to do the activities. At one point, Lubofsky had a realization:
“If we’re going through this, other families must be, too. Wouldn’t it be great if someone just mailed out activities to people who were just diagnosed with dementia or to caregivers to use as a tool to connect with their care recipients?”
Thus, the idea for Busy Minds Box was born.
A subscription to Busy Minds Box will guarantee a package filled with activities is delivered to your loved one’s door each month. The boxes give homebound older adults fun tasks to occupy their time and teach them something new on an ongoing basis.
Exercising your brain helps reduce the risk of cognitive decline
“We control up to 40% of our risk for developing dementia,” Lubofsky said. “Part of it is keeping our brain active. Engaging in a variety of activities can help strengthen our brain because we’re using different parts of it. If you sat down every day and the only thing you did was a word search, you’re strengthening the part of your brain related to language, problem-solving and reasoning but you’re not touching on the creative or memory parts of your brain.”
Because the brain is so complex and controls everything in the body, she explained, the activities inside each box are designed to strengthen different parts of the brain, rather than focus on one area. For individuals with dementia, the activities help foster social connections and brighten outlooks.
“Dementia is a very confusing and scary disease,” Lubofsky said. “You want to make sure they have a good quality of life but also that they still feel like they have a purpose. When they’re having so many things done for them, like their meals cooked or dressing, it’s easy to lose that. People tend to talk to people with dementia like they’re children or scream at them. It’s not the case. They’re having problems processing. It’s important to find a way to connect with them and make them feel like they have a purpose.”
It’s important to find a way to connect with them and make them feel like they have a purpose.
She intends to do that with each box. Every month, activities with a different theme are delivered. In recognition of Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, the theme for November, for example, was gratitude—why it’s important and how positivity helps our brains and makes us happier overall. Activities included writing thank-you cards to veterans; writing down one thing you’re thankful for each day on a “30 days of Thanks”-themed notepad; and storing those messages in the “Thanks Bank” mason jar they decorated with paints and stickers supplied in the box.
“At the end of 30 days, you open it and remember what you’re thankful for,” Lubofsky said. “It reinforces gratitude and good feelings and strengthens the connection in our brain to rewire us to feel positive and happier.”
The December theme will be snow and the holidays with a craft that involves a snowman and a thermometer.
“It’s fun, but it teaches you that if you see the thermometer at 32 degrees, you need to put a coat on,” Lubofsky said. “It reinforces that processing [in the brain].”
Instructions for each activity are written on a card and available in video tutorial format to accommodate both those who prefer written and visual instructions. Subscribers are billed $42.95 each month for the boxes (shipping included) and can cancel at any time.
With so much on their plates, caregivers may not have time to find or create engaging activities to do with their loved ones. Having a box delivered helps. Plus, the activities are fun and give everyone a break from their daily routines.
To learn more, visit Busy Minds Box.