Patient Referral

Button Tree Canvas: Activities for Dementia Patients

button tree craft

Buttons come in all shapes and sizes – and we all seem to have a mismatched collection of them. A drawer or bowl filled with buttons that came with new clothes or fall off our old ones and get tossed aside and forgotten. Most of us will never use them for what they’re intended, so instead you can turn them into a fun activity for a loved one with dementia.

Crafts like the button tree canvas below can be a meaningful way to spend time with a loved one with dementia. To make the most of the experience, meet your loved one where they are. Plan the activity for a time when they are alert and interested in participating. Don’t work in silence. Use the activity to reminisce with your loved one. Share stories of activities you did together when you were younger or ask your loved one questions about their youth. Use the buttons as a conversational jumping off point to ask about fashions from their teenage years and your loved one’s favorite outfits.

Remember that activities for individuals with dementia are designed to create pleasant moments of engagement. Don’t worry about the end result.

Button Tree Canvas

What You’ll Need:

  • Buttons
  • Clear Glue
  • Canvas
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Brown or Black Paint Pen (optional)
  • Paint Brushes


  1. Paint the background color of your choice on your canvas. Let dry.
  2. Draw or paint a tree on your canvas. You can use a paint pen if that's easier for you.
  3. Spread out the buttons on your canvas and choose where you want each button to be placed.
  4. Once you know where the buttons will be placed, apply clear glue to the back of each button and press it into place on the tree.
  5. Let dry.

See more activities for dementia patients.

Caregiver Tips

  1. If your loved one is not able to do the drawing step, you can draw the tree yourself and have your loved one can add the buttons.
  2. If you want to keep the activity moving, work on several canvases so each one’s background color has time to dry while you work on the others.
  3. While doing activities with a loved one with dementia, engage them in conversation. Play music your loved one enjoys softly in the background to create a positive mood.
  4. Activities for people with dementia have the best chance of success in the morning between breakfast and lunch when your loved one is well rested. If they don’t want to participate or get frustrated, don’t force it. Try again another time.

Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care is also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to support patients with dementia and their families. Please call us at 1-888-564-3405 to learn more about how our unique care programs help provide a higher quality of life for dementia patients while helping caregivers avoid burnout.

If you found this information helpful, please share it with your network and community.
Copyright © 2018 Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care. All rights reserved.

Heart Icon

Want to give back?