Memory Kits: Meaningful communication tools for caregivers

If you are looking for helpful communication strategies and useful tools to add to your caregiving toolbox, look no further. A memory kit will help you spark a conversation, find an emotional connection, explore a memory or inspire an imagination with an aging loved one who is living with dementia. Engaging an individual in activities will help that person feel they are still an important part of your life, family life and their circle of friends.

Memory kits are available for three different levels of cognitive impairment – early, mid, and late stage and contain two types of materials. For caregivers, the kit includes a book of strategies to manage behaviors and a meditation CD with resources for mind, body and spirit. The kit for sharing with loved ones includes:

  • Crossword puzzles, word searches
  • Coloring pages
  • Picture book
  • Sensory stories, such as a day at the circus or ball park
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Conversation starters
  • Coloring pencils and dry-erase marker for the laminated games

This kit also includes a list of 101 activities to do with a person living with dementia, such as sorting buttons or coins, a scavenger hunt and clipping coupons. There is also websites and addresses provided to order additional copies of the materials to create your own kit.

That is what Beth Kampf of Hopkins did to construct her own memory kit to use when she visits her parents in Rosemount. Kampf’s father is living with dementia and her mother is his caregiver. She said her dad, who is in his early 80s, was diagnosed about 10 years ago and lives at home. Kampf learned about the memory kits when they were demonstrated at a memory café session. She checked one out from Gethsemane Lutheran Church to take with her when visiting her parents.

After returning the kit, Beth purchased the items that worked well with her father and tailored her own kit to his needs. Her kit now includes the book for caregivers and the CD, which she says helps in “coming to terms with what they are going through.” She also purchased the 101 activities list, Old Maid card game, dominoes, memory flash cards, and an exercise band to create a family memory kit based on activities included in the original kit.

Memory kits can be checked out for a period of three weeks at these locations:

Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 715 Minnetonka Mills Road

Hopkins Activity Center, 33 N. 14th Avenue

Open Circle Adult Day Center, 34 S. 10th Avenue

Memory Café sessions, Hopkins Library, 22 N. 11th Avenue

Funding for the memory kits available at the above locations in Hopkins is through the Hopkins ACT on Alzheimer’s Initiative. To help support and educate those living with dementia and their caregivers the Hopkins ACT on Alzheimer’s proudly sponsors several dementia related community events throughout the year, with a special focus in May in recognition of national Senior Awareness Month. Throughout the month, residents in Hopkins and surrounding cities attended a number of events, all of which were FREE and open to the public.

The ACT on Alzheimer’s initiative is powered by the Hopkins ACT on Alzheimer’s Action Team which includes members from; the Hopkins Library; City of Hopkins, Hopkins Fire and Police, Cassia Services and Communities; Chapel View Health Care Center; Emerald Crest of Minnetonka and Augustana Open Circle, Volunteers of America – Elder Homestead of Minnetonka, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Hopkins Elks, and The Glenn. For more information, please contact Laura Herman at 952-697-5373 or  

Augustana Care Open Circle Adult Day Services offers three convenient locations throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. Each of our locations offer programs, recreation, personal care, respite and social connections to individuals with memory loss or other emotional or physical needs. Contact one of our centers to learn how Augustana Care Open Circle can support care partners to find balance and meaning in a life touched by memory loss or other diagnosis. We offer care consultations that are targeted to the needs and values of caregivers. Click here for more information.