Libraries offering 'visit kits' to help connect with those dealing with memory loss

A new tool is helping friends and family of those dealing with memory loss better connect with their loved ones. 

The items, called visit kits, are popping up at Twin Cities metro libraries, including in Dakota County.

“We feel like it’s something the community has been asking for,” said Heather Stephenson, Adult Services Manager at the Dakota County Library.

At the Wentworth Library in South St. Paul, there are 20 visit kits, which all have a different focus.

“They contain things that will gently spark conversation, memories, ways of interacting that are low pressure,” said Stephenson.

The boxes include items like puzzles, music, sensory items and conversation cards. The Fountains of Hosanna, a senior living center in Lakeville that includes a memory care unit, consulted with the library on what to put in the boxes.

“It’s allowing that meaningful experience,” said Beverly Kossack, the outreach director at The Fountains at Hosanna. “It’s allowing them to go back and have something that was very important to them, something they can connect with.”

It can be a bridge to reconnect families, who at times can feel far away from their loved ones dealing with dementia.

“When you’re with someone and having that experience and interaction you can physically see them changing,” said Kossack.

It’s a simple tool with a potentially big impact.

“Little things like this are enriching the lives of those individuals suffering through the disease,” said Kossack.

Staff with The Fountains at Hosanna say they are going to start training their volunteers on how to best use the boxes. The hope is the volunteers will check them out, and use them during visits with the memory care residents.