The Power of a Memory Box

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Telling someone with Alzheimer’s about their past can help them trigger a memory but you have a much better chance if you can trigger more of their senses. And a memory box can lead them down memory lane. You could ask them about when they played baseball as a kid, but if they can feel their glove in their hand, smell the beaten in leather, feel the stitches on a baseball they can be transported to their old field.
While a sport is a great example it’s not the only way to build a memory box. First, you want to figure out what items may hold special significance for that person. Did your loved one play an instrument? A hobby? Spend a lot of time in the kitchen? The garden? The workshop? Then collect relevant items in one location so they’re easy to pull out when that person needs to be calmed or comforted.
While we use the term “box” it doesn’t have to be. You could use a basket, an inexpensive plastic container with snap-on lid, a designated shelf or drawer, or a shoebox for smaller items. The important part is that it’s easily accessible.
Putting your family’s box together should be an activity for as many family members as possible. It’s a great way to teach grandchildren about their family’s history, and they can help decorate the box.
The memory box can include any item that might mean something to the person with dementia:

  • A baseball glove
  • Gardening gloves
  • Different types of fabric
  • A favorite article of clothing
  • A trophy
  • Trip souvenirs
  • A family heirloom
  • A stuffed animal
  • A musical instrument

Or, you may want to get creative and create themed memory boxes with items relating to a specific experience:
Trip to the Beach Memory Box:

  • Sea shells
  • Pan filled with sand, large enough to place feet in
  • Dried starfish
  • Beach towel
  • Sun tan lotion

Nature Walk Memory Box:

  • Leaves
  • Tree bark
  • Flower petals
  • Pine cones
  • Acorns
  • Rocks
  • Pot of soil (particularly if the person likes gardening)

Have the person with dementia hold each item and encourage that person to share what that object brings to mind. You can talk about how it feels—bumpy, smooth, fuzzy, hard—and what memories the person associates with it.

The possibilities for what you might place in a memory box are endless. Use your creativity to create a memory-stimulating collection of items customized specifically to the person with dementia.

Call us at 905-463-0860 for more information about in home Alzheimer's care in the Brampton, Georgetown, Caledon and surrounding area. Our lines are open 24/7.

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