This month I’ve been working on “Memory Boxes.”
Creative Age volunteers have been working with museum staff and volunteers and the local library to gather to select memorabilia for small bins called Memory Boxes. In many communities, museum or library Memory Boxes are loaned to seniors centres and long term care homes to enhance social activities or to prompt creative arts projects. The memorabilia within is certainly of interest and sure to spark some spirited discussions.
A study published in the June 2007 issue of Geriatrics and Gerontology International concluded that a reminiscence group program was an effective way to enhance the cognitive capacity of people with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia as well as their ability to participate in day to day activities. However, reminiscence discussion groups can result in enjoyable social time for active and healthy seniors and not just for those with early onset dementia. People like to find common bonds or interests and talk about their shared experiences. The positive impact that life story can have for older adults has been widely noted, but there is scant published research to support these claims and, to date, none exploring both the carers’ and older adults’ experiences of engaging in collaborative memory work, which can form an important component of a person’s life story. These memories and memory boxes can prompt ideas for creative writing projects. Memoire writing is gaining in popularity and can become a intergenerational family legacy project for kids, mom/dad and grandparents as unique memories and experiences are shared with loved ones.
During our research about reminiscence discussion groups, we also discovered that a popular online discussion group If You Grew Up in London Ontario, You Will Remember When…...(with 27,000 Facebook members) resulted in real-life friendships and regular group social activities and outings for older adults. In a light-hearted manner, the group also takes credit for one later-life marriage.
All of these creative projects and more were shared with the community at the Creating Connections Symposium at Museum London on National Seniors Day, October 1st 2018.