It has happened to all
of us - perhaps driving around a big city, or walking through
a shopping mall - the feeling of disorientation or of being
lost. There is that moment that nothing looks familiar, and
the feeling of confusion and helplessness
Fortunately for most
of us, we eventually see a landmark, or a sign, or even an intersection
that we have been to before that will help to guide us and extinguish
the moment of panic or confusion.
Imagine this scenario
playing out inside your home - a place that is where you likely
spend most of your time. It may sound far-fetched to get lost
or confused in your own home, but unfortunately, for many residents
of assisted living facilities and other care environments who
suffer from memory impairments such as Alzheimer's disease,
it can happen often, if not daily.
A great tool that facilities
and care homes can use to help memory-impaired residents "re-orient"
themselves to their surroundings, and keep them from forgetting
which room or apartment is theirs - is a "memory box"
or as they are sometimes called "locator boxes."
There is nothing elaborate
about a memory box, and they are fairly easy to create and implement
into your home. Basically, they are a box, or display case that
is placed right outside a resident's room. Usually, these are
kept at eye-level. This box is filled with items that the resident
identifies with - personal items to help "jog" their
memory. Items can include:
Old photographs of family, friends, grandchildren
or other loved ones
from where they used to work
or small painting of the town that they grew up in
Of course, if there
is anything of value in the box (we recommend against that),
make sure it is a locking box, and that someone trustworthy
has the key or combination. Most items that can be placed in
a memory box can be useful even if they don't have much monetary
Using a memory box can
drastically reduce residents getting lost within the facility,
and can also cut down on wandering
and other behavioral problems associated with memory impairment.
Memory boxes can be
created by a local carpenter, or you can possibly find something
that would work in a used furniture shop, or antique store.
A wooden display case that might normally hold nice glassware
would work well for this purpose.
If you want your loved
one's facility to use a memory box - make sure to ask permission
first, since this would be an addition most likely in a common
area of the facility, and thus would need approval first.
- by the staff at
Assisted Living Directory