For individuals experiencing memory loss due to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, memory boxes can be a great way to help them recall their past, even if for a brief period of time. Memory boxes can be a collection of your loved one’s favorite objects from childhood or can even be items that capture the essence of a time. These projects can be a great way to reconnect with loved ones suffering from dementia when talking and other approaches don’t seem to have much of an effect.
Memory boxes work by capitalizing on a person’s senses in order to help trigger memories from long ago. They’re filled with objects that the individual can touch, smell, and see, with the hope that the person will be brought back to the point in time that they experienced such sensations. Sometimes these objects can be the only way back to a forgotten memory.
Setting up a memory box is easy. All you’ll need is a box of the size of your choosing and various items and objects that you’ll use to decorate it. This box is something that will carry meaning for you and your family member, and what’s inside of it will be more important than how the box itself looks.
Now comes the fun part. Any objects that your parent or loved one once owned or used in the past are fair game. Perhaps there is a ring, necklace, or other piece of jewelry they frequently wore before moving to assisted living. Maybe you have old photos of them in their prime that will help them recall a particular time period. Even something as seemingly trivial as a piece of fabric could spur old memories to the surface, just from the touch or feel of the material.
Once you have assembled the memory box, it is now time to present it. You’ll want the recipient to handle each object for some length of time, allowing their senses to respond. You can ask them to talk about the object, describe it, or simply free associate about any thoughts or feelings that the object brings up.
If you are feeling at a loss for objects to put inside the memory box, don’t despair. Other relatives may be in possession of objects that have significance to your loved one. If not, you can easily find objects on your own. A great start would be to visit a local antique or hobby shop. Here, you will find many different items from past time periods that will help bring your loved one back to a time when they were younger. For example, memorabilia from World War II could spark a story about the family’s victory garden.
There’s no set formula for putting together a memory box. Anything that carries meaning for your loved one should work just fine. This article has a few ideas if you’re stuck: How to Make a Memory Box.