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How to Create a Memory Box for Older Adults with Dementia

How to Create a Memory Box for Older Adults with Dementia

For older adults living with dementia-related memory loss, assembling a box of sentimental items and keepsakes can be a helpful way to recall the significant events and people in their lives. Opening the box and sifting through these treasured mementos can stimulate your loved one’s mind, help facilitate conversations, and bring back floods of happy memories when cognitive decline begins to occur. This box of meaningful reminders will encourage your loved one to successfully retain as much of their cherished memories as possible.

Follow these easy steps to build a beautiful memory box for your loved one with dementia.

  1. Choose a suitable container. Finding a receptacle for your loved one’s memories is the first step. A strong, durable shoebox, basket, or plastic bin that is easy to access, handle, and store would be ideal so that your loved one can comfortably lift and open the memory box. It should be large enough to fix items of varying shapes and sizes but compact enough to not be heavy or cumbersome. A container with compartments to organize the mementos might be helpful as well.
  2. Collect a variety of keepsakes. The items in the memory box should include significant keepsakes from different points in your loved one’s life, items that represent their interests, and anything that might trigger a particularly happy memory. Remember, memories are tied to all of our senses, especially the sense of smell – so be sure to choose items of various colors, textures, and fragrances. Some ideas include family heirlooms, postcards, newspaper clippings, a grandchild’s toy or artwork, a favorite perfume, family photos, souvenirs from a memorable vacation, or items related to a favorite hobby, such as a baseball glove or knitting.
  3. Label the items. Your loved one might need some help relating the items in the memory box to the period in their life that they represent. Labeling each item with a brief description can help them make the connection. Jot down a brief description on the back of photos or attach stickers or string tags on keepsakes with a clarifying caption, such as “Bobby’s Christening gown” or “Mom’s locket.” Use large, clear type when writing so that the labels are easy to read and understand.
  4. Decorate the memory box. As a fun last step, sit down with your loved one to add a personal touch to their memory box. You can decorate it with colorful stickers, family photos, or craft paint – putting personal touches on the box with your loved one is a great way to make the creation of the memory box a memorable event in itself.

Learn More about Memory Care Services at Christian Health

Christian Health offers supportive, specialized, and compassionate care for people with varying degrees of cognitive difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

  • Courtyard at Longview: Memory Care Assisted Living is geared toward fostering independence and designed to meet the needs of those with early-stage dementia and memory loss. For information about Courtyard at Longview or to schedule a tour, please contact Victoria Durante at (201) 848-4303 or
  • Heritage Manor: Compassionate Skilled Nursing Care provides compassionate skilled-nursing care and memory support to meet the needs of those no longer able to care for themselves. For information about Heritage Manor or to schedule a tour, call (201) 848-5855 or email
  • Southgate Special Care: Compassionate Skilled Nursing offers behavior management care for adults who have behavioral disturbances associated with dementia and other illnesses. For information about Southgate Special Care or to schedule a tour, call (201) 848-5855 or email