The rummage box is a means of tapping into memories from the past and helps people with dementia feel empowered and secure in familiarity. It is about REMINISCENCE.

When a person has dementia they begin to lose their short term memory and memories. They can forget about things that have happened in the last few days, months or years. They may even have forgotten what occurred earlier in the day.

However, people with dementia can retain their long term memories and find comfort in discussing things from their past. Particularly things they enjoyed like past interests, hobbies or even their past employment.

The rummage box can be used as an activity, as a distraction, and therapeutically as a reminiscence tool.

The rummage box can be made of a shoe box, a biscuit tin, a drawer, press or even a room.


To direct the person’s attention to the rummage box you must first get a photograph of them that they like and recognise as themselves. As he or she may have little short term memory this usually involves using a photograph of them when they were in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. It is important they can relate to the photograph as being them. Enlarge the photo and laminate it and tape in to the front of the box. When it gets their attention and they open the box it should be filled with as many old memorabilia as possible that they enjoyed doing when they were younger in their hobbies, past times and even work life.

Some examples can be:

  • Pictures or photographs of holidays or days/ nights out;
  • Objects they used to enjoy such as knitting wool, old cameras. DVD’s of their favourite films when they were younger

Old objects or tools (once they are safe to do so) they used to work with

Citizens Information Memory Loss Booklet

Citizens  Information have launched a Memory Loss Booklet which seeks to provide a comprehensive information resource for carers of people living with memory loss. It provides information on social welfare payments as well as supports from the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and numerous community groups.

We hope this book will provide a useful resource for families and carers to access the supports needed.