My Dad’s a Goldfish – the fidget box

cropped-goldfish-87-1254566814ncva1.jpgAs the Goldfish seems to sink further into himself conversation becomes increasingly limited, as, of course, does his ability to engage in the games of snakes and ladders or dominoes which he previously enjoyed.

We find looking at old photos is no longer a useful thing to do. He shows little interest, perhaps because he no longer recognises the people in the photos. I make up scrapbooks containing pictures of animals and birds, which he enjoys looking at sometimes. Companies produce all kinds of resources including reminiscence cards and DVDs of times gone past but they are expensive and the Goldfish seems to have moved beyond such activities.


A few bits and pieces from the fidget box


Almost by accident, I hit on what we came to call the fidget box. Into a shoe-box sized box I put a random selection of miscellaneous objects. They included a small trophy with the legend, ‘World’s Best Grandad’, fastened inside a clear plastic box; a Christmas cake decoration with Santa in his sleigh being pulled by a reindeer; a small block of wood, one side of which had been charred; a tiny brass spirit level; a small mandala; three small juggling balls; a plastic wallet containing  a dozen old black and white postcards of working horses; a golfing tiepin; a glass paperweight with a picture of a peregrine falcon and a bull’s nose ring.

This latter object puzzled us for a while as we could not figure out what it was. The Goldfish shrugged whenever we asked him. Then, one day in one those moments of lucidity he said: “It’s a nose ring for a bull.”

“It’s quite fancy,” I said, indicating the inlaid metal work.

“It’s for when the bull’s in the show ring.”


World’s best grandad trophy – a bit the worse for being fidgetted with!

The Goldfish had great fun opening the little trophy box, undoing the cord which held the trophy in place and removing the trophy. Then he’d put it back in the box. The fastening disappeared, as did one of the handles but he didn’t seem to mind, or even notice.

One of his favourite pastimes was picking at the leather backing of the paperweight. He finally, after much time and hard work, succeeded in removing it. He could also spend hours with a coaster, attempting to split the picture on the front from the backing.


The fidget box did not work its magic every time we


The fidget box

proffered it to him. Sometimes the Goldfish ignored it. If he did not want to rummage through its contents nothing would persuade him to do so. At other times he would pick up the box and remove the lid himself and be totally content for hours.

Many of the resources and activities for sale are excellent but are more geared to be used when people still have the cognitive ability to recognise artefacts, people and events from the past. I’d recommend a do-it-yourself fidget box.

24 thoughts on “My Dad’s a Goldfish – the fidget box

    • I’m not sure what it was, Lucinda. Maybe he was curious about how the paperweight was put together or thought he could open it? The ‘experts’ go in for things like old wireless sets and old telephones to try to reach people with dementia but I still suspect they only work when there is a fairly high cognitive ability. The things dad fidgetted with were just random bits and pieces which fascinated him sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mum just sat in front of the TV. She would talk to the people on the screen and tell me she knew them and that she’d seen them recently. I’m sure this box would have given her more interest, Mary. I did try showing her photos on my iPad, but she was never interested in them. Always enjoyed a cuddle, though. 😀


  1. Hugh, I found photos wroked up to a point but once dad had reached the point when he no longer recognised people showing him photos he ignored them. I think it upset him not knowing the people. Animal and bird pictures worked better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a brilliant idea! I can see that it combined things to handle and items which had once, or still, mattered, and great variety. I may have suggested this already, but the music of his youth, particularly songs, is likely to give pleasure and mean something long after other memories have faded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Hilary. A happy accident and lots of the items weren’t really personal to dad but somehow seemed to attract and hold his attention. As for music and songs, yes, I used to take him to a a regular ‘musical minds’ event organised by Alzheimers Scotland. The first time he said he didn’t want to sing but the moment the music started up he started singing. I was astonished to learn he knew the words to every Jim Reeves song. I don’t know if I have posted about this, but one day I found a Gaelic disc in amongst a pile of CDs. I showed it to him and he said, ‘Oh, that’s on Islay. He (I’ve forgotten the name) was a joiner on Islay (dad worked there and I was born there) and won gold medals at the Mod.’ I put it on and after a bit I heard dad singing along. He wasn’t a Gaelic speaker but on Islay he heard it a lot and was surrounded by singing at ceilidhs. This was over fifty years before but on hearing the songs he remembered them. That really convinced me the power of music and song stays imbedded in our minds.
      I want to state here that when its my turn I want to hear Eric Clapton and Queen – and The Beatles and The Stones! Thanks for dropping by – sorry to have rambled on in my reply.


      • It is lovely to hear confirmation of what I have known from research and seen only in a BBC programme (I worked in brain research and, before I retired, on an early-onset Fronto-Temporal Dementia). My girls have promised to stream continuous opera to me. I will have to reveal to them that as a child it was Scottish Country dance tunes, Kathleen Ferrier and Paul Robeson (all on my grandfather’s 78s). I’ll be happy with the Beatles, and all the 60s pop too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I read somewhere the music we remember most when we are old is the music we listened to when we were betwen the ages of 16 and 24. If that is true, I wonder if it is the music/songs which is so memorable or if it is also because those are the years when we not only listen but we talk to friends about music – what we listen to in those years became part of our identity. We should be compiling our play lists for when the time comes!


  4. You are so creative, Mary in coming up with new ways of connecting with your Dad. Love the idea of a personalised fidget box.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s