The loss of short and long term memory is often one of the first symptoms of dementia. Over time, sufferers are likely to find recalling memories increasingly difficult, which can be upsetting for both those living with dementia and their loved ones.
Working to improve memory can not only help to boost the confidence of those with dementia, it can also help to fight the disease itself. Regular work on memory can slow the progression of dementia and enable those coping with the condition to live their lives to fullest for as long as possible.
One way to improve memory is to create a memory box. Specially designed to help stimulate and calm someone living with dementia, memory boxes could help to give you, and your loved one, the boost you need.
What is a memory box?
As the name suggests, a memory box contains a range of meaningful items that have been specially chosen to help trigger the memory of someone with dementia. Items in a memory box can be used to help jog the memory of someone with dementia and to prompt conversations that aid memory recall. You can either work with your loved one to create a memory box or you can put items together for them and present the box as a gift.
Photos should be included in a memory box wherever possible. Photos can be a fantastic memory trigger, especially when they’re photos of friends and family. Choose a selection of photos going back over the years. Many people with dementia find it easier to recall memories from their childhood than things that happened more recently, so try to find photos of your loved one and their friends and family, from years gone by. If possible, put these photos together in an album and then write labels beneath each image to help trigger memories and promote conversation.
Music is another powerful gateway to memories. A lot of the time, people living with dementia will be able to recall song lyrics and melodies even when the condition is at an advanced stage. Include some records or CDs in the memory box so that your loved one can listen to their favourite artists and albums as they take a trip down memory lane.
Souvenirs and childhood toys
Souvenirs from past holidays can be another excellent conversation aid. You can use old holiday souvenirs in conjunction with photos to make the memories even more powerful and get your loved one talking.
If you don’t have any old holiday souvenirs, see if you can include some of your loved one’s old childhood toys in the box. Like souvenirs, these can be powerful memory triggers and can help to comfort and reassure someone living with dementia.
Creating a memory box can be a hugely rewarding process for both carers and those living with dementia, you can find some further useful tips on how to create one here