Despite How Complex Our Memories Are, There May Be Ways to Find What We’re Looking For

There isn’t a whole lot of mystery surrounding the definition of a memory box. After all, it’s in the title: a box of memories. Where the mystery lies, then, is what exactly the box should be filled with.

The contents of the memory box should not only be dictated by the recipient and their life, but by the relationship you, the giver of the box, has with the recipient. As in: are you a son intending to give the box to your father? Are you a caregiver intending to give the box to your patient? Etc.


One important thing to keep in mind, though, regardless of the relationship, is that sometimes a person suffering from Alzheimer’s may not respond to just the sight of something. Or the feel of something. That in mind, try your best to pick items that could trigger all of the senses — sight, smell, touch, sound, taste.

You’ll find examples in this list.

  • Letters

Seeing the old stamps, and the handwriting of a loved one (as well as an address!) could do wonders.

  • Photographs

If possible, choose photographs of the two of you together, or of the family together.

  • Artwork

Are they an artist? Are you? You can always put in the artwork of their children, too, or their grandchildren.


  • Fresh flower petals

Do they have a favorite flower? Do your best to find it and include the petals in their memory box — the sense of smell is a fantastic way to trigger memory.

  • Old movie tickets

Movies are remembered because they are both an immersive and communal experience. Yet, at the same time, some movies can bring about a very personal experience and response.


  • Vacation souvenirs

Keychains? Postcards? Snowglobes? Whatever souvenirs were collected from the trip of a lifetime can apply here.

  • Newspaper clippings

From wedding announcements, to a sports blurb about a relative, newspaper clippings are good reminders of not only what has transpired, but also of where they’ve lived.


  • Air freshener from their last car

Did they always have a “Vanillaroma” air freshener hanging from their mirror? What about “Black Ice”? Or “New Car Scent”? It could take them back to a time that they were cruising the countryside, windows down, music up.

  • An audio player loaded with one song

Do they have a favorite song? Is there a song associated with a certain moment, as in: a wedding song, or a graduation song? The point of loading the audio player with only one song is just to focus the moment; please do feel free to load more, however.

  • Dried leaves/dried flower petals

This can be both a visual cue, and a textural cue.


  • Cedar shavings / Pine shavings

Does the recipient of the memory box love the outdoors? Do they enjoy walking through the woods? The strong scents of cedar and pine shavings just may transport them back to those times.

  • A figurine of their first car

We all know how important that first car was. And we can’t help but look back on it fondly, regardless of its condition.

Article continues below

Our Featured Programs

See how we’re making a difference for People, Pets, and the Planet and how you can get involved!

  • Their favorite hard candy or bubble gum

The taste and texture of a familiar favorite could bring back lots of memories: from buying them at their favorite childhood candy store, to handing them out to their children and/or grandchildren at gatherings.

  • Pieces of chalk

Whether they once were a teacher writing equations on a chalkboard, or simply a curious child with a stick of chalk, this can be both a visual cue, and a textural cue.


As we alluded to earlier, not all memory boxes are the same, nor should they be treated the same. Do your best to make them unique to both you and the recipient. At the very least, we hope that the suggestions in this post will spark ideas that you can run with. But, always, always remember that every memory box should have one thing: love.

What memories would you want to capture in your memory box?

Please let us know in the comment section.

Alzheimer’s Support

Fund Alzheimer’s research and supplies at The Alzheimer’s Site for free!