Shadow Boxes

Shadow Boxes

By: Michelle Remold

Pictures are documented moments in our lives that we want to remember. Each picture of ourselves has a story behind it; something that makes us who we are. It might be a wedding picture, a professional picture for a career, family photos, vacation memories, fun with friends – no matter what the picture, each one has a story and is something we want to remember.

As I was pursing my degree at the University of Northern Iowa, the topic of shadow boxes in skilled nursing facilities was one of the topics we talked about. There are a few ways these can be created. One is that some facilities have them on the walls as a form of wayfinding. In this case, wayfinding helps residents identify which room is theirs. Another method is to create a shadow box for each resident as they are welcomed into the facility.

Shadow boxes are a great way to allow residents to display knick-knacks, photos, and other things that mean something to them. While the shadow boxes are great for the residents, they can be beneficial to the employees of the facilities as well, especially on dementia care wings. Shadow boxes provide a way for those working with individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia to get to know the residents a little better. They give them an idea of things they like, how many kids they had, maybe a favorite color or hobby, what their career was, and more. These may seem like small things, but it can help to pick activities to have the residents partake in and discussion topics to talk with that person about.

I think that utilizing shadow boxes are an easy way to begin providing more personalized care to residents and to get to better know residents who otherwise might not be able to let workers know more about themselves. I think that Ansel Adams captures this idea, especially when I think about utilizing shadow boxes on dementia care wings, well when he said, “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

008Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.


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