A Box filled with memories

A Box filled with memories

The practical use of memories...to boost memory

Memory Box and Dan

Hebrew Home resident Daniel Goodman and his memory box.

A bag of coffee. A pencil and ledger. Sea shells. Flowers. Artwork. Family photos. These are some of the items you’ll see in recently-refreshed "memory boxes" located outside the rooms of memory care residents on campus. It should be noted that the boxes were originally developed at the Hebrew Home in 2003/2004 with support from the Carl M. Freeman Foundation and have been a beloved feature at Cohen-Rosen House since its opening in 2013.

These boxes serve more than a decorative function. They encourage memory retrieval for individuals living with cognitive difficulties, they tell staff and visitors what has been important in a person's life, and they can serve as a marker or landmark for residents finding their way back to their room. In addition, the boxes create an opportunity to engage residents in meaningful conversations about aspects of their lives now and before dementia.

Families and residents are encouraged, if possible, to work together to select mementos. They can follow their instincts or become very creative. For example, they can choose something that reflects a past profession. A former CPA might place a calculator, pencils, and paper in the box or a pharmacist might decide upon an antique mortal and pestle. If the person is an avid National’s baseball fan, they may choose to have the whole box decorated with Nationals memorabilia.

"We would love to have more families design and take ownership of the boxes on a regular basis," says Patty Hagen, director of Memory Care, adding that "the boxes can be changed whenever and as often as desired."

To learn more about memory care and other programs at Charles E. Smith Life Communities, please call 301.881.0300.


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