Making a Memory Box for an Alzheimer's or Dementia Patient July 02 2013


Memory boxes are frequently used in order to promote engagement opportunities for seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Memory boxes can prompt conversation and provide mental and emotional stimulation. For a person living with a memory-loss condition, the items or objects in a memory box can help them reflect on the past and recall people and events.

All of our lives are filled with items that hold special personal memories. A memory box should contain a variety of items that hold a special significance for the person diagnosed with a memory-loss condition. The items can be utilized to engage the person or to comfort the person when they need to be calmed.

The first step in creating a memory box is to locate a suitable container. Ideally, it should be large enough to accommodate a number of different-sized items. For some people, an old-fashioned hatbox works—for others, a plastic bin, a shoe box, or a cigar box will work fine. Also, you may consider decorating the box with paints, markers, ribbon, fabric, stickers, buttons, beads, etc.

Next, locate items to be included in the memory box. Consider items with stories associated to them. Also, consider labeling the items—even those that are obvious. For example: Billy’s baseball, Mother’s necklace, gardening trowel, etc. The labels can be attached directly to the items or handwritten tags can be attached to each item. Select items that can be easily handled. However, avoid items that are potentially dangerous, precious, heavy, or sharp.

The memory box should include any item that reflects the person’s particular interests or their personal life history. Consider:

  • jewelry (without pins)
  • old coins
  • a wedding band
  • a family heirloom
  • a child’s drawing
  • a stuffed animal
  • a key chain
  • a hairbrush
  • a favorite pair of shoes
  • a favorite article of clothing
  • a Thanksgiving recipe
  • a Christmas stocking or Hanukkah candles
  • family photographs
  • photographs from special occasions (graduations, weddings, etc.)
  • vacation photographs
  • trip souvenirs
  • suntan lotion
  • seashells
  • a potpourri sachet
  • a bottle of a signature perfume
  • a bar of a favorite soap
  • a baseball glove
  • a trophy
  • a thimble
  • an old record or sheet music of favorite song
  • a musical instrument
  • a gardening tool or gloves
  • dried flowers
  • pine cones or acorns

The possibilities for what can be included in a memory box are virtually endless. Be creative and collect a variety of memory-stimulating items designed specifically for the person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. When the memory box is completed, have the person handle each item and encourage them to share the special memories associated with them.

Shadowbox Press products are developed to provide an easy and effective way to enhance the quality of engagement with seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Our collection of interactive books and conversation cards are designed to evoke memories, prompt conversations, and engage adults in an enjoyable, meaningful activity. For more information or to place your order, call us toll-free at (888) 796-6333.