A keepsake box or memory box is used for storing mementos of special times, major life events or special people. For seniors, memory boxes can help them hold on to memories of special times. For people living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory impairment issues, memory boxes are used to promote engagement opportunities. For someone living with memory loss, the items inside a memory box can help them think about the past and recall people and events.
“For a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, the sense of touch can trigger memories in a way that other forms of communication cannot,” according to the website HelpForAlzheimersFamilies.com. “To stimulate tactile memories for a family member with dementia, first figure out what items may hold special significance for that person. Did your loved one play a sport? An instrument? Spend a lot of time in the kitchen? The garden? The workshop? Then collect relevant items in one location so they’re easy to pull out when that person needs to be calmed or comforted.”
The memory box doesn’t necessarily have to be a box. It could be a basket, tote bag, a plastic container with a lid, a shelf or drawer, or a shoebox. It can be as decorative or as simple as you like. If you’re creating one for or with a loved one, putting the box together can be a fun activity for the entire family. Grandchildren can help decorate the box or choose items to go inside. They are easy and inexpensive to assemble.
Ideally, the finished product will be easy to access and lift, able to store several of items of varied shapes and sizes and fit on a lap or small table.
What goes into a Memory Box?
Memory boxes should include things that hold special meaning for your loved one. Items that evoke cherished memories, recall scents and sounds, and feel familiar to the touch.
Things you could put in a memory box range from photos to souvenirs from vacation, old letters and cards, dried flowers, artwork from grandchildren, a childhood softball, or mitt or other sports gear. Some prefer to create an activity-style memory box filled with pieces that relate to your loved one hobbies, interests or career. The goal is to create a collection of cherished belongings that may trigger happy memories for an adult with memory loss.
Safety Tips for Memory Boxes
There are a few tips to keep in mind when creating a memory box for a senior loved one:
- Leave out any small items that might present a choking hazard in the box. Occasionally those with advanced Alzheimer’s or dementia may put things in their mouth and try to swallow them.
- Avoid items with sharp edges, or heavy items that could cause hurt someone if they are dropped or thrown.
- Don’t put anything of value or irreplaceable in the box.