Art therapy has been used to help a wide variety of individuals, including those suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Part of the reason is because Alzheimer’s does not usually affect the emotional and creative parts of the brain, allowing the creative therapies to be very impactful when done well. With Alzheimer’s and dementia, short term memory and the ability to recall words are typically what is first affected; art does not require words which makes it much easier for the individual to communicate.
When working with individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and/or dementia, they can get very upset and frustrated because it is exceedingly difficult to remember parts of their life and who people are. The purpose of this box is to help them establish who they are as well as keep memories for them. The box itself can be anything; cardboard, an old jewelry box, old cases, or even plastic containers. Depending on what type of box is used will alter what the art therapist can do or what materials they can use. When creating a memory box, the individual would typically decorate the outside with their name and whatever makes them happy or with what defines them as a person. Inside the memory box they can either place or decorate the inside with pictures of themselves and their life experiences.
However, a memory box does not only have to contain pictures. It can also contain knick-knacks from their childhood or things that belonged to siblings, a husband, children, or grandchildren. These objects can also be old records or things that bring the individual making the memory box happiness. The purpose of these objects is to spark memories. This box then stays with them, and they can even write notes on the back of the pictures if they have difficulty remembering. The box remembers for them so that the individual does not feel the burden of having to remember everything.
I personally have seen the positive effects of this because my grandmother created one. Even though I was not there to watch the process, she kept her memory box in her room and anytime she did art she was very relaxed and happy. I believe this is because she did not have to worry about remembering how to do things and she could focus on expressing herself and being happy.