General News

Memory Boxes

We have already had two very successful events in our series Exploring and Understanding Dementia series. These meetings have been arranged in partnership with Faith in Older People (FiOP) to help us to look more closely at how we deal with dementia: as church visitors, as friends and neighbours, as carers and in ourselves. Another useful website is that of the Dementia Research Unit at Stirling University


2013 - from Sandra DSC01891.jpgOur third and last meeting took place on Tuesday, 26th February 2013, when Dr Mary Moffat, a leading trainer in this field, focussed on the creation of ‘Memory Boxes’.


About 20 of us gathered in Church House, and the introductions showed a wide Memory_Box.jpgvariety of reasons for attending. Some were caring for those with dementia at the present time, or had done so in the recent past. Some had a professional interest as a pastoral visitor, a church minister, the owner of a care at home scheme, or for a research project. Others had themselves been diagnosed with dementia and wanted to do all they could to help themselves.

2013 - from Sandra DSC01893.jpgAt the start the skill of listening was discussed, and in particular the importance of truly seeing and hearing the other person without constantly rehearsing one’s own responses or making judgements or assumptions. Only then will the unsaid words and feelings be caught.

Unavoidable changes occur when we need to be cared for by others. In particular there is a radical change in our ‘sense of self’. We all know that one day we will die. It is a natural unavoidable process. But in our society little store is set by making the final stage of life when we are dependent on others as good and joyous and complete as possible.

One of the ways which this can be helped is by the making of a ‘memory box’. This is a box which contains a variety of objects which trigger special memories. To illustrate this, each of us was asked to think of three special objects which would conjure up memories: one from when we were 0-7 yrs, one from 7-14 years, one from 14-21 years. Ideas ranged from books and photographs, toys and bicycles, clothes and food, to sounds and smells. We practised our listening skills by working together in pairs and silently allowing the other to describe their chosen ojects and their reasons for choosing them.

Our identity is related to what we have done and been. In old age we can become lost and forgetful. To help retain our identity and our ‘spirit’, a memory box containing meaningful memory joggers: personal items and photos and a brief written life history, to which carers and visitors can refer, can be a source of pleasure and encouragement.

The afternoon was rounded off by Mary reading a most beautiful poem ‘The Sacrament of Letting Go’ (from Seasons of Your Heart: Prayers and Reflections, by Macrina Wiederkehr).

 All agreed it had been a most helpful and encouraging time and that we had learnt a lot both from Mary and each other. Special thanks were expressed to Mary Moffat and also to those who provided the cup of tea and the delicious gingerbread!

Contact Information

Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church,
18 West Mayfield,

0131 667 1522 / 0780 801 1234

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Scottish Charity Number: SC000785


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