Contributed by Jeff Anderson
It comes as no surprise to those who have worked with Alzheimer’s patients that the memory loss and confusion associated with the disease can be a significant source of stress. In fact, the cognitive deficits and emotional distress are among the most challenging and debilitating aspects of Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, any tool that can offer relief from these symptoms is well worth considering for caregivers and anyone involved with seniors facing Alzheimer's and dementia. One valuable resource that may provide dual symptom relief is the "memory box."
A memory box is precisely what it sounds like: a container filled with objects designed to trigger memories from a person's life. While the contents of each memory box will differ from one individual to another, some common themes exist. Every item included should be carefully selected to serve as memory cues. Examples might include family photos, letters, artwork created by children or grandchildren, postcards, cherished trinkets, and souvenirs from trips.
Of course, every box should be personalized with items that hold special significance for the particular Alzheimer’s patient and reflect their interests and pastimes. Examples might include a golf ball, gardening trowel, knitting needles, stamps, coins, and more. It's a good idea to avoid items that are heavy, fragile, sharp (like pins, sewing needles, and fishing lures), or anything that could pose a hazard when someone reaches into the box. It's also helpful to avoid items that may trigger sad memories. Additionally, items with scents, such as perfumes, colognes, and potpourri, can be particularly beneficial, as our sense of smell is a powerful trigger for memories.
The benefit of the memory box are numerous. Most importantly, it provides a sense of peace, familiarity, contentment, and nostalgia for the box's owner. Moreover, both the process of creating the box and sifting through its contents later on engage the individual's senses – touch, sight, smell, and more. They also offer opportunities for cognitive exercises, especially memory and recall, which are crucial for Alzheimer's patients. All of this, along with the chance for someone with Alzheimer's to connect with another human being during a stimulating and relaxing journey down memory lane.
Jeff Anderson's career began as a creative author after graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He discovered his true calling when he started working with seniors. In addition to researching and writing about issues affecting seniors, Jeff enjoys engaging with others on Alzheimers.Net, a community for Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
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