Four Benefits of Memory Boxes to Those With Dementia


Great for recalling happy memories and prompting conversation, memory boxes are a collection of personally meaningful items and images from the past, and can be a fun arts and crafts activity to do with people who are living with dementia.

Recalling Happy Memories in Dementia sufferers

The benefits of a memory box for someone living with dementia:

By looking at the different items, photos and letters in the memory box, it will help stimulate the long-term memory of the person living with dementia and bring back those happy memories from events in their past

As the memory boxes help the person living with dementia to start opening up about their past and sharing fond memories, it will allow the carer or loved one to gain a much deeper insight into who they are as a person and can even help improve relationships.

1. Stimulates the senses
Including items in the memory box with different sounds, sights, textures and smells will help engage the senses. There is evidence to suggest that sensory stimulation can be very powerful for people living with dementia, for example, according to Alzheimer’, sensory stimulation can improve mood, self-esteem and overall well-being in a person who has dementia. Something as simple as the smell of a perfume or the sound of a meaningful song has the power to transport us back to specific memories from the past.

2. Encourages creativity
Putting together a memory box, perhaps with a carer or within a group, is an excellent way for a person living with dementia to express themselves creatively. Research reveals that creative activities in dementia care can stimulate curiosity, encourage self-expression and can fill patients with a sense of accomplishment - all of which promote the health and well-being of those involved. Find out more about the benefits of art for people with dementia.

3. Helps calm
People in later stages of their dementia journey can often feel agitated, which sometimes results in restlessness and emotional distress. Involving them in a creative task can not only help to distract from this agitation but to go through and to talk about the items can have a calming and relaxing effect. A 2017 study found that recalling happy memories can elicit a positive response, and has calming results when we’re exposed to stressful situations!

4. Prompts conversation
Perhaps the main benefit of creating a memory box with someone who is living with dementia is that they can act as a brilliant tool for opening up different conversations about the past and fond memories. Conversation and communication is an essential factor in the quality of life for all of us and can have a significant impact on confidence and sense of identity for someone who is living with dementia. Being able to open up about their lives and past.

How to make a memory box for someone living with dementia:

One of the best things about creating a dementia memory boxes is that putting them together can be as quick and straightforward as you like. To make one, all you need to do is find a suitable container (a cardboard box or shoebox works well), decorate it how you want, and fill it with personally meaningful nostalgic items.

What to include in a dementia memory box?

You can include anything in your dementia memory box that is meaningful to you or your loved one.

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

• Pictures or postcards of significant places
• Photographs of happy memories
• Tickets from shows, concerts or places visited
• Items relating to a hobby
• Items relating to their career or a particular job they enjoyed
• Things with different textures and smells
• Sweets from their childhood
• A CD with meaningful songs on it
• Letters from people important to them
• Souvenirs from holidays they enjoyed

How To Make a Memory Box

The possibilities for what can be included in a memory box are endless! Work with your loved one and let them express their creativity when getting together the collection of items.

We'd love to see what you create. Tweet us photos of your memory boxes @TheAbbeyfield!

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