5 Reasons to Make a Memory Box for Alzheimer’s Patients

For seniors with Alzheimer’s, a memory box helps recall people and events from the past. These memories, thought to be lost, can stimulate the senior emotionally and prompt conversation with loved ones.5 Reasons to Make a Memory Box for Alzheimer's Patients 

A three-year-old’s works of art, a newspaper clipping, or a family photo; memory boxes hold items that bring us back to a time or even a moment 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

Memory boxes can link seniors to what they love or what makes them feel good about themselves. They can even help hold an Alzheimer’s patient’s identity, with keepsakes emphasizing an overall theme, person, holiday, or an event that lifts the senior’s spirit.

It will take time to find the keepsakes to store in the memory box, but it is worth the effort. Here are five reasons to create a memory box for a senior loved with Alzheimer’s:

  1. Recall fond memories of youth, personal interests, children or history in general.
  2. Inspire conversation with caregivers, children or grandchildren.
  3. Exercise touch and other senses that the senior will rely on more and more as Alzheimer’s progresses.
  4. Spur creativity. The senior may want to create another box about a different life event or memory.
  5. Give you more insight to your loved one. When you search for keepsakes, you may find special items you did not realize the senior still had.

Creating 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 fingers and dexterity.

This box is something to share and use. So choose a box that will handle some wear and tear, and make sure it has a lid that the senior can open easily.

Choosing Keepsakes

Items stored in a memory box can be personal, like a baby’s toy, or seemingly ordinary, like a blank postcard. A 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 sharp or heavy items.
  • Uniqueness–if an item is irreplaceable, leave it out.
  • Texture–items should be easy to handle; texture itself can help stir memories.
  • Significance–focus on items linked to positive memories.

Bear in mind that the senior may not recognize items right away or understand why they were included. So consider labeling each item with a tag or sticker. You can also list 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:

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

You can create multiple memory boxes for different themes. Maybe one could hold memories of the kids and another of a favorite hobby. All keepsakes do not have to fit into a single box.

Memory Boxes Help Create New Memories

When you open the memory box with your senior loved one, ask the senior to share his or her memories. 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.

Have you created a memory box for a senior loved one?Let us know what you put in your memory box below.

Related Articles:

Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Kathleen Hibben

    going to start a memory box for mom for mothers day 2014

  • I’ve always thought memory boxes were a “simple” way for family caregivers to enrich the care partner experience. Your article lays it out in an informative and easy to understand format. I hope tons of caregivers find your article so they can utilize the process.

  • nanabrown

    I currently care for an 84 yr old woman in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and will get started on helping her create her own memory box. What a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • Christina

    I am making one for my 96 year old Dad. Thanks

  • Gay Ann Christian

    I work in a nursing home ,and I’m part of a B.S.O. team and we are always looking for Idea’s to help us with our residents with alzhiemers or dementia . I love to read your articals !! We have done similar things with our residents . It’s all about trying ,to see what works .I have found music and pictures help alot !!

  • susan parker

    Memory boxes . In mine I have furry cat and dog, Scented old fashioned soap, a nail brush shaped like a duck – for memories of childhood bath time. a shell that you can hear the waves in. Wedding parafanallia, Bookmarks with pictures on , . and so much more. I use an old vanity case for my memory box and even though it is mainly ladies there are some things in it that men can relate to. Ie A ring in a case. reminding them of perhaps of the proposal to their wife etc. A shell that can be put to their ear. Memories of the beach.
    This case I have had for 23 years when I worked for Alzheimers. I retired but now at 73 for the past 5 years I have been back at work as a Lifestyle co-ordinator in a nursing home with dementia residents. I can’t ever see me retiring
    The things I pull out of my vanity case give much enjoyment and wonderful stories to hear ,all have a meaning and provide so much including the social aspect. I can sit for an hour and hold everyone’s attention with the stories they tell. Yes a memory box is a necessity. Toolboxes work the same for the men.
    Another thing is to get the families to put into an album -My Story

    • Yvonne

      Thank you for your ideas. This has helped me and my kids when choosing memory box items for my 66 year old Dad who has had Alzheimer’s for the past 6 years or more. I applaud you for all your work & efforts. What a star!

About The Author

Profile photo of Jennifer Wegerer