Creating a dementia memory box is a simple activity where you can use reminiscence therapy to help your loved one at home.
By just sitting down together and exploring a collection of items or images from your loved one’s past you can help encourage short-term memories by stimulating long-term ones.
It can also open-up the lines of communication, as well as making your loved one feel more at ease and providing an activity that interests them.
Step 1: Choose your box
- a large jewelry box
- a plastic food container or bin
- a shoe box covered with wrapping paper
Step 2: What to include
The memory box can include anything that means something to your loved one.
Items can be of personal interest or favorite memories in history that have significant meaning. Try to include items with different textures, scents or sounds.
Each item should relate to a memory that can be revisited time and time again.
Be aware that some items may open the door to unhappy memories, and you may want to be sensitive to avoid or carefully address discussing these items.
Step 3: What to consider
- Safety–Avoid items that are potentially dangerous, precious, heavy, or
- Uniqueness–If an item is rare or irreplaceable, leave it out.
- Dexterity–Items should be easy to handle & not too heavy.
- Significance–Focus on items linked to positive memories.
- Texture–Texture can trigger sensory memories.
- Fragrance- Include items that can be touched and smelled.
* Keep in mind that your loved one may not recognize items right away or understand why they were included, so consider labeling the items.
Step 4: Choose specific items
- Copies of family photos
- Favorite book(s)
- Dried flowers, flower petals, leaves
- Favorite perfume, soap or lotion
- Children or grandchildren’s artwork
- Vacation souvenirs
- A trophy or medal
- Letter from a loved one
- Favorite CD
- Baby toy or stuffed animal
- Newspaper clippings
- Favorite jewelry (without pins)
- Wedding trinket
- A favorite article of clothing or shoes
Step 5: Enjoy
When the memory box is completed, have your loved one handle each item and encourage them to share the special memories associated with them. When you open the memory box with them, ask them to share their 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 and lasting memories.