03.17.17 Some Things I Learned About Dementia – Making a Memory Box

This article is from Alzheimers.net.  There are a couple of links in it that I encourage you to follow for more information about Memory Boxes.  When mama was at Sunrise Assisted Living Center in Hammond they had a version of memory boxes using a shadow box on the wall outside the door to their little apartment.  It helped the residents know which door was theirs.  Mama loved to stand in front of hers and connect with things she remembered that was in the box.  It was a tiny version of this and not nearly as helpful as what this article encourages caregivers or families to put together for their loved one.

For loved ones, parents or seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, a memory box can help recall events and people from the past. These memories can stimulate the senior, prompting conversation with loved ones. 5 Reasons to Make a Memory Box for Alzheimer's

Whether a family photo, newspaper clipping or other prop; memory boxes hold items that bring us back to a moment in time that we hold dear. When a senior who has Alzheimer’s opens a memory box, it can stir thoughts of happy moments in life and give that person something to talk about.

Reasons to Create a Memory Box for Alzheimer’s

Memory boxes can link loved ones to their identity, with keepsakes emphasizing an overall holiday, person or theme that lifts the senior’s spirit. Though it will take time to find which keepsakes to store in the memory box, it is worth the effort.

Here are five reasons to make a memory box for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s:

  1. Exercise, touch and other senses used in the creation of a memory box will become more important for a loved one to rely on as Alzheimer’s progresses.
  2. Fond memories of a senior’s history, personal interests and youth can be explored.
  3. Memory boxes can inspire conversation with caregivers, children or grandchildren.
  4. More insight into your loved one and their past will be gained. When you search for keepsakes to include in a memory box, you may find special items you did not realize the senior still had or was interested in.
  5. Spurred creativity from the creation of a memory box. The senior may be inspired to create another box about a different life event or memory.

Ways to Make a Memory Box

A memory box can be as decorative or as simple as you like. It can be a plastic bin or a shoe box, whichever you prefer. Ideally, it will be easy to access and lift, store a number of items of reasonable shapes and sizes, and fit on your loved one’s lap or a small table.

If the memory box has compartments, make sure they suit the senior’s dexterity and that the senior can open the memory box easily.

Learn more from these tips about ways to choose keepsakes for your memory box:

Choosing Keepsakes

Items stored in a memory box should be personal, like a baby’s toy or postcard. The memory box should reflect the senior’s interests or a moment in history that has meaning to that individual.

When you choose keepsakes for the memory box, consider:

  • Safety: Avoid heavy or sharp items.
  • Significance: Focus on items linked to positive memories.
  • Texture: Items should be easy to handle; texture itself can help stir memories.
  • Uniqueness: If an item is irreplaceable, leave it out.

Bear in mind that a loved one may not recognize items right away or understand why they were included. So, consider labeling each item with a sticker or tag. You can also list the items on a piece of paper, and write a phrase or sentence about each one.

Keepsake Ideas

Here are some suggestions for keepsakes you might include in a senior’s memory box:

  • A baby toy
  • A baseball or cards
  • A keychain
  • A letter
  • A recipe
  • Artwork by children or grandchildren
  • Dried flowers
  • Family photos
  • Postcards
  • Sheet music
  • Vacation souvenirs

You can create multiple memory boxes with different themes with your loved one – maybe one could hold memories of children and another of a favorite hobby, for instance. The keepsakes do not have to fit into a single box.

When you open the memory box with your senior loved one, ask the senior to share his or her memories with you. You may find that an item that was meant to stir a certain memory brings on another. Or, it could inspire a waterfall of thoughts and conversation, leaving you with new, lasting memories of your senior loved one.

Rosalyn’s note:  Here are several versions of Memory Boxes I found on the internet.  There is no one way to make them so I thought showing several would be helpful.

First photo shows some labels that could be used:

  I like that this one includes a family tree.  I think that is an excellent idea.

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PERSONAL NOTE:  To my sons and husband – I really, really, really want one of these for when I am at that stage.  I’m starting to make a list of what I’d like in my memory box to help you with this.  Chip has a large box with lots of things in it that would be a good start – just sayin!!!   Please make sure you include only happy memories  Love you all!

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Please come back next time when I’ll share more topics about dementia. If you want to get an email each time I post a blog (I write about other things, not just Alzheimer’s) find the “FOLLOW” box which is usually to the right hand side somewhere, enter your email and respond when the confirmation email is sent to you.

If you are in need of prayer for yourself, in your role as a caregiver, or if you have any specific questions please send me a comment with whatever information you want to share or ask about. I’ll say again that I’m not expert, but I probably experienced with my mom a lot of things you’re going through and will try my best to help. If I don’t know the answer I will tell you I don’t know. I’ll never judge, I’ve been judged enough to last a life time and would never do that to someone else. My email address is rosalyn@selu.edu if that is an easier way to communicate.

Until next time,

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