Many of us have got old boxes or files stored away full of old photographs, mementos from special occasions and holidays and we re-visit them every now and then, and those memories come flooding back to us, allowing us to reminisce.
Having a memory box for a person with dementia is a great way of allowing them to rediscover forgotten memories and see memorable objects and photographs on a regular basis again.
It can also help spark conversations between your parent/loved-one and their carer and the rest of the family.
We’ve put together our top tips for putting together a memory box for a parent or loved-one with dementia:
Source photographs, stories and mementos
You can start by going through any old photo albums your parent/loved-one might have and have them help you pick out key photos. It is a great activity to do together as it means spending quality time with each other and the memories will hopefully start coming back to your parent/loved-one throughout the process.
It’s a good idea to have other family members help out with their old photographs too. Ask if they have any they can donate to the box that might help your parent/loved-one reminisce.
If they have funny stories or memories about your parent/loved-one, ask them to write them down so they can be read out at a later date.
It’s a good idea to include a couple of keepsakes in the box too, these could be significant letters from a husband/wife or a first baby toy/item of clothing from their child/children that can be added.
A person with dementia may not instantly recognise an item or photograph, so it’s worth labelling everything with as much info as possible that can be relayed to the person with dementia to help them access memories.
Make your box
Once you’ve collected all your contents, you can make your box. Your box should be easy to access and lift for your parent or loved-one but it doesn’t need to be anything too fancy. A simple shoebox will do, as the lid is easily removable. Don’t use anything with a lock and key. It’s a good idea to label the box with your parent/loved-one’s name too.
It’s a great idea to get your parent/loved-one involved in the process of making the memory box. The process of looking at photographs and other notes, letters and keepsakes will spark memories as you go and collecting everything together will give them a great sense of achievement.
The box can be used as often as needed. The same items in the box might spark different memories each time it’s looked at and the box can also be added to over time.