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A box filled with letters, photos, and a cassette tape.

What Memory Boxes Do for People with Dementia

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For those living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other forms of memory loss, a memory box can function as more than just a link to the past. It can stimulate the senses, trigger recall, or even help your loved one make new friends. 

Filled with items such as family photos, postcards, newspaper clippings, or souvenirs, a memory box paints a picture of a person’s past. They can take many forms. Imagination is your only limit. Was your loved one an avid musician or maybe a basketball fanatic? Consider including an instrument or old jersey. The goal is to create a reflection of your loved one’s identity, and the benefits can be far-reaching.

Provide Sensory Stimulation

Memory boxes packed with items your loved one can touch, read, smell, or even listen to engages the senses – and the result can be highly beneficial. Flipping through old photos or busting out a tune on that old harmonica enlivens the senses. It can boost mood and self-confidence by stirring feelings of familiarity. We’ve all been transported back in time when a familiar song comes on the radio or we smell a particular food that reminds us of our childhood.

Encourage Memory Recall

A memory box is a link to your loved one’s past. Their treasured mementos can help draw out fond memories and reconnect your loved one to their interests and identity. Those connections can do wonders for their sense of self-worth.

Start Conversation

Studies have shown that a healthy social life boosts cognitive health. What better gateway to conversation than a memory box? It puts your loved one’s interests front and center, creating instant common ground. Talking about hobbies and interests can jog old memories and spark confidence – and help your loved one make new friends. 

Offer Opportunity to Learn Your Loved One’s Past

The act of creating a memory box is a fantastic opportunity to learn about your loved one’s past. In determining what to include, you’re sure to learn things you never knew about them – past jobs, past adventures, hobbies, and other fun facts. And not only will creating a memory box serve as a bonding opportunity, it’ll help preserve your loved one’s legacy and link them to later generations. Imagine a young child learning of his great-grandfather’s military service or athletic exploits through tangible items like medals, trophies, or newspaper clippings? It’s a gift that will keep on giving for generations to come.

Want to make your own memory box for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of memory loss? The Mayo Clinic offers these tips for how to create one.

For more information about dementia and the best care for your loved one, check out the Artis Senior Living blog.

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