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The benefits of memory boxes for people living with dementia

For people living with dementia, nostalgia or reminiscence therapy can be really helpful and memory boxes can be used to create collections of familiar objects linked to long term memories. As well as these personal collections, some care homes are applying the same principles and using wall mounted memory boxes to achieve a number of objectives including, but also extending beyond, reminiscence, including wayfinding and allowing people to make sense of their environment.

A wall mounted memory box, made of Perspex that allows the objects within to be seen from all angles can be used to define personal space or to clarify the purpose of an area. For example, the object could be one personal to a specific individual. This could then be placed outside the door to their private room or placed next to a bed (in a hospital for example), enabling them to locate their own space.

Equally, the memory box could contain something appropriate to the use of the room: a paint set or puzzle for an activity room; a cup and saucer in a recreation area; or a (artificial) item of food or picture of someone eating in a dining room. This offers additional ‘markers’ or cues for people about the purpose of the room. There is also some research that suggests that images of people eating can actually increase appetite in people with dementia so this could be very beneficial.

Dementia affects people’s visuoperceptual skills and it will affect people in slightly different ways. Though you have to be careful about not overloading people with too much visual stimuli, by giving people a range of cues in different formats (signage, words, images, 3D objects etc) you can offer people with dementia the best possible chance to make sense of their surroundings which reduces stress and anxiety. Memory boxes can play a significant part in this in a care home environment.

You can buy wall mounted dementia memory boxes from New Vision

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