For those living with Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia, the pleasantness of life’s special memories are eventually lost. As a way to help loved ones cope with memory loss, many caregivers and dementia specialists turn to reminiscence therapy to help bring some memories back into the light. A simple way to do this is with a memory box.
“A memory box is simply a small box full of keepsakes or items that may evoke a fond memory for someone with dementia,” explains Diane Reier, Lifestyle Specialist at Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights, a senior living community in Prospect Heights, IL. “Memory boxes are wonderful tools because they are highly personalized for each individual, they work as a great engagement activity, and they can create new, special moments between a loved one and their caregiver as they reminisce together.”
In the Mayo Clinic’s® article “Alzheimer's and memories: Use mementos as cues,” the author reinforces the fact that items and mementos can be powerful tools. As the caregiver of a loved one with dementia, “you can help him or her cope with the onset of memory loss by creating a tangible bank of memories.”
Benefits of a Memory Box
A memory box can hold various items that have special meaning and value for your loved one – all of which can be used to transport him or her back through time to their happiest moments. While dementia takes away a person’s short-term memory, their long-term memory can remain intact much longer through the disease. A memory box helps to stimulate their long-term memory and promote cognitive functioning.
According to the article “5 Reasons to Make a Memory Box for Alzheimer’s Patients,” a personalized memory box offers several important benefits to your loved one. For example, recalling pleasant memories of people, places and events from your loved one’s past can help reconnect them with the outside world, improve their emotional state and provide them with a sense of purpose and belonging.
Other important benefits of a memory box include:
- Providing you with more insight into your loved one’s past and their life story. When you search for keepsakes, you may find special items you did not realize they had. Additionally, you may be surprised to learn how much they remember.
- Inspiring conversation with caregivers, children or grandchildren. Reminiscing about the objects in the box and retelling the stories they hold can be meaningful for both parties.
- Spurring creativity. Your loved one may want to create another box about a particular life event or memory. It may be fun to create a Christmas box or an Anniversary box to fill with memories dedicated to their spouse.
- Exercising their sense of touch and other senses that your loved one will increasingly rely on as Alzheimer’s progresses.
- Awakening your loved to their sense of self. The ability to recall important memories from their past can help your loved one feel encouraged and proud. Our lives are made up of memories, so being able to hold onto them is vital for a healthy sense of our own identities.
Creating a Memory Box for Your Loved One
Organizing and putting together a memory box for your loved one is relatively simple. You can start by making a list of your loved one’s happiest memories, then seek out items that will help trigger pleasant thoughts and take them back to those special moments. You might also ask relatives for their ideas, as they may be aware of experiences in your loved one’s life that you are not.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Family photos or small albums
- A letter with special sentimental value
- Awards and personal honors
- Artwork by children or grandchildren
- Vacation souvenirs and postcards
- Dried flowers
- Items of favorite sports teams
- Items used for favorite hobbies, like a paintbrush, film negatives, golf balls, yarn, etc.
- A cloth sprayed with their favorite perfume or cologne
Memory care experts caution you to be certain that all of the memories you evoke are pleasant ones. For example, if their spouse has passed away, it may cause your loved one extra grief to recall specific memories that punctuate that loss. Another caution to consider is your loved one’s safety. Don’t include items such as pocket knives or glass items that are sharp could break.
Memory care specialists also advise that it is very important to engage your loved one right away when introducing the memory box to them. They suggest that you ask them to select an item and then have a discussion with them about it. You might be very surprised at how detailed their memories are and how quickly they return to that special moment in time.
Find the Support Your Family Needs
“If you could use more ideas about how to engage your loved one with memory loss,” says Reier, “contact us at Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights. Our memory care staff are experts at providing meaningful, engaging activities for those with dementia and other forms of memory loss. From creating memory boxes to providing holistic therapies to stimulate sensory and cognitive functioning, we can help you find the best activities to plan with your loved one.
“If you would like to learn more about the memory care we provide at Aspired Living®, contact us today or schedule a visit. We’d be happy to show you how we help our residents with memory loss live well!”
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Live Well. Age Well. Be Well.
Offering Independent, Assisted Living and A Knew Day Memory Support, Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights is a distinctive senior living community designed to offer seniors residing in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs area a fresh alternative to “typical” senior living communities.
Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights provides residents with the ideal balance of personalized support, dignified privacy and enhanced independence complemented by luxurious amenities and our life-enriching, award-winning VIVA!SM programming by Pathway to Living®.
Managed by Pathway to Living®, an innovator in senior living, Aspired Living® offers the choice of a private studio or a one- or two-bedroom apartment and the beauty of a brand new community, stunningly appointed and decorated for unsurpassed comfort and style by the award-winning senior living design firm, Thoma-Holec Design, Inc.
For more information, please call Diane or Janette, Lifestyle Specialists, at 847-243-6920.
Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.