The Memory Box: “Memories are the architecture of our identity.”
Our memory care community in Edwardsville is easy to gloat about. The design is uniquely tailored to benefit individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, its décor is warm and inviting, but there is something that adorns the walls outside each resident’s door that catches your eye and draws you in. This “something” changes with each person that we’re lucky enough to serve. It’s called the resident’s memory box.
The Cedarhurst staff created the idea of the memory box to serve multiple benefits. Dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be straining on a family, and making the transition from home or rehab into our community can feel overwhelming. The memory box provides a tool for the family to work on something uplifting and focus on the joys of that family member’s life rather than their new normal, which can feel uneasy. The memory box also provides the residents with a critical tool for which to locate their apartment. They may have lost the ability to recognize certain numbers or letters, but when they see familiar photos or paraphernalia it reassures them they’ve located where they belong.
The contents of each memory box stems from a critical step we take with each new resident in our memory care. Upon move in, our staff interviews the family for the individual’s life story. This provides our staff with critical information not only about the resident’s personality traits, but actually allows us to create a plan that caters the way in which we care for them. When we ask the family to create a memory box to place outside the resident’s room, they’ve already begun to reminisce about the unique qualities that sets their loved one apart.
Some of our residents may not be able to communicate about their past on a level they’d be comfortable with. Their memory box provides a tool to make a connection, if even for a moment, to see that sparkle in their eye, a salute, or a prideful smile. If a gentleman was a veteran, you might see medals, patriotic flare, and photos in uniform. The ladies tend to decorate with family photos while adding a little feminine touch with bright colors or cutouts.
The box may be small, but the enormity of what it contains speaks to the reason why we feel so honored they’ve adorned our walls with a window into their memories.