Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder that prevents the proper storing process of new information in the brain resulting in patient’s loss of memories and cognition decline. It is a type of dementia where the brain is progressively losing its natural structure to due to the continuous death of brain cells that leads to function loss. This disease usually starts out to be mild and then gets gradually worse. There is no happy ending with this disease. You just have to fight for quality of life and controlling symptoms.
Taking care or dealing with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease is a very challenging one. Imagine your loved one who was so sweet and very affectionate towards you just yesterday and the next morning, he/she doesn’t know who you are and what you were. However, if you love someone with this disease, you know that the position can also bring joy into your life and be extremely rewarding if you remember a few simple things. You may feel helpless at some times, but remember, there are still things you can do. And one of those things is making a memory box.
Making a memory box wherein a person with Alzheimer’s can look back to the past and trigger a memory that might help him out. It is important that the memory box you are up to is tangible since the sense of touch can trigger memories and a strong feeling of fondness. This memory box is a simple thing that has a big impact with the patient’s coping up the process towards their abominable grasp on reality. Having a memory box full of life’s gems will help people with Alzheimer’s reflect on the past and recall people and events they are gradually forgetting or on some point, they have long forgotten.
A memory box is like a small treasure box that contains visual aids and tactile valuable gems that represents patient’s personal story and past experiences. Memories from those items can reflect the patient’s interests or moments in the past that have dear meaning to them. It is a clever way of an innovative approach to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease stimulate or capture the memories they have been long forgotten. In the patient’s increasingly strange reality, it is important to have something that has to mean for them so they can hold onto it dearly as these can remind them of the past as well as the reality.
Think about the hobbies of the patient or the things he enjoys doing in the past like if the patient enjoys basketball, it is important that you show him a ball or the favorite jersey he always uses while playing. The other keepsake ideas that you can include in a memory box are the following:
● Baby toy - you can include any significant baby toy to the patient like the first toy he bought for his children and grandchildren or it can also be a memorabilia of the patient’s childhood.
● Baseball or cards – if the patients love to play or watch baseball games, this is a thing that will surely make the patient remember those good old days.
● Keychain – we all love to buy key chains especially in the places we visit, that is why it is important that we include one other in the memory box to make your patient remember that unforgettable trip he had.
● Letters from a loved one – receiving a letter from someone so dear makes us feel special and loved. Include an old letter to the memory box and read it to the patient to help him feel the nostalgic yet beautiful feeling of being special and loved.
● Artwork by children or grandchildren – children love to draw and when they do it, they proudly show it around. It would be nice if you are able to get an artwork of the patient’s children or grandchildren to cheer him up.
● Dried flowers – people usually put the flowers between the pages of their favorite book especially if it was given by someone they love, so it would be great if you add some dried flowers on the memory box and ask the patient if she still remembers it.
● Family photos – show the patient some family photos from an album, it will surely stimulate the patient’s memories, just make sure you won’t include any photo that will trigger a bad memory like a picture of deceased loved one.
● Postcards – including this will surely take him back to the times when someone would send him postcards, always remember that there is a beautiful memory in every postcard.
● Sheet music – you can also include an old sheet music if your patient loves to play an instrument when he was younger and you can also see if he can still read the notes.
● Vacation souvenirs – include some souvenirs on the memory box and tell your patient about the story behind your vacation and ask him if he still remembers those old good times.
● Favorite books – books are timeless and they never get old especially if it is the patient’s favorite, include it in the memory box and read it to him again from time to time.
● Favorite soap – people’s sense of smell is very distinct that is why including the patient’s favorite soap in the memory box will surely let him remember something.
● Favorite CD box – take your patient back to his time by making him watch or listen to his favorite CD box and it would be a 100% guarantee that both of you will be engaged in an enjoyable conversation.
● Wedding trinket – help him remember the day he married the love of his life, put his wedding trinket in the memory box and ask him how it feels when he saw his wife walking down the aisle.
● Hairbrush – that relaxing feeling when someone is brushing your hair will surely calm the storm inside of your mind, brush his hair using the hairbrush while he shares the best memory he could remember.
On the other hand, here are the important things you should ponder upon in creating a memory box:
Safety - Avoid heavy or sharp items.
Significance - Focus on items linked to positive memories.
Texture - Items should be easy to handle and the texture itself can help stir memories.
Uniqueness - If an item is irreplaceable, leave it out.
A memory box will help the patient in remembering treasured memories as well as in creating a positive emotional experience, provide a higher quality of life, and reduce stress. And since most of the patients with Alzheimer’s disease have a weak grasp onto the actuality, a memory box will help them create a strong and more concrete connection towards the current happenings of the reality.
There are many reasons why you should consider the importance of a memory box. Remember it is a tool that can exercise the patient’s senses which are used in the creation of memories. It is also a valuable thing to rely on for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease as their disease gradually progresses since their most precious memories are easily accessible inside the box and they can go back to the old days. You might also be surprised to know that the patient still remembers the things you thought he forgot already.
As you can see, memory box is one of the best things you can do to help someone cope up with this heart-breaking disease. The only thing you could give to someone who is gradually losing everything he has on his brain is the gift of memory. A memory that will make him remember the best times during his worst and that is simply the most beautiful gift you can give to them.