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.
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:
- 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.
- Fond memories of a senior’s history, personal interests and youth can be explored.
- Memory boxes can inspire conversation with caregivers, children or grandchildren.
- 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.
- 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:
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.
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
- 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.
Have you created a memory box with a senior loved one before? Let us know what you included in your memory box and what suggestions you have for others in the comments below.