Updated: Dec 17, 2018
Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s memory and thinking. It is the most common form of dementia and affects over 5 million Americans. If you or a loved one is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, you may find that a memory box can help. Memory boxes help those with Alzheimer’s disease recall events and people from the past. It can stimulate memories and encourage conversation with loved ones. Memory boxes can also help link a person to their identity, lifting their spirits.
While creating a memory box for your loved one with Alzheimer’s will take time and effort, here are five reasons why it’s worth it:
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, communication skills decline and sensory stimulation becomes more important. The ability to touch, see, and explore items in a person’s memory box can engender positive feelings.
A memory box gives the person with Alzheimer’s disease the opportunity to explore fond memories of their past, personal interest, and even their youth.
Memory boxes can inspire conversations between the person with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, children, and grandchildren.
You can gain more insight into the senior’s past as you search for special items to put in a memory box. You can also discover other interests and hobbies that your loved one has.
The creation of a memory box can spur on more creativity and possibly inspire the senior to create more boxes about different life events or specific memories.
A memory box can be as decorative or as simple as you like, such as a plastic bin or a shoe box. Ideally, you want a container that is easy to access and lift, can store a number of different items, and can fit on the senior’s lap or a table. There are many items that you can put in a memory box. You should choose items that are personal, like a baby’s toy or a postcard.
The memory box should reflect the senior’s interests or a moment in time that has meaning to the senior. For example, you could include family photos, newspaper clippings of important events in the affected person’s life, or another memento highlighting a treasured memory. You can include keepsakes emphasizing a favorite holiday, beloved person, or special theme.
As you choose items for the memory box, try to avoid heavy or sharp items. Items should be easy to handle. Focus on items connected with positive memories, even texture can help stimulate memories. As a note, if an item is irreplaceable, you may want to leave it out. Your loved one may not recognize an item right away or understand why it was included. So you may label each item with a sticker or tag to help jog the senior’s memory. You can also list the items on a sheet of paper and write a short sentence of explanation about each one.
Here are some suggestions from A Place for Mom, Inc. for keepsakes you might include in a senior’s memory box:
A baby toy
A baseball or cards
Artwork by children or grandchildren
You’re not limited to just one memory box. You could create multiple memory boxes with different themes for your loved one, such as one about their children, one for a favorite hobby, or one about the holidays. The keepsakes do not need to fit into one single box.
As you go through the memory box with your loved one, share memories together and ask about their thoughts and feelings for each item. Memory boxes can inspire conversation and help seniors relive old memories.