Mexico Public Library Director Marilla Couch looks recently at laminated photos of items and places from the 1950s through the 1990s for Memory Bags for people with dementia and their families to facilitate communication. The bags are offered for free to the community. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — For people with dementia and their families, a remembered moment from the past is a gift. Photos from the past can trigger memories and provide a bridge for caregivers and loved ones to communicate and connect.

That is the mission of Memory Bags, a free project to the community by the Mexico Public Library.

Each bag carries a letter from library Director Marilla Couch that reads: “This Memory Bag was made for you to share with your loved ones. It has pictures in it of the Rumford and Mexico area, as well as pictures from the 1950s through the 1990s. Please enjoy looking and telling stories to your loved one about life in those areas. This Memory Bag is yours to keep. If you know of others who want one, please contact me (207-364-3281) at the Mexico Public Library.”

Couch showed pictures for one bag that included black licorice cough drops, poodle skirts, old stereos and landmarks of Rumford and Mexico. There’s an old photo of a Boise Cascade open house and another of a replica of the old Mexico school room at the Mexico Historical Society museum. There are up to 25 photos in each bag.

Couch and volunteer Mary Madigan have made 11 bags and are working on another 10.

“They don’t cost me anything except my time and 97 cents (cost per Memory Bag),” Couch said. “There’s no cost, but if people want to donate to continue the program, they can do so. Or if anyone has pictures they want to put into a Memory Bag, they can donate those as well.”


Initially, Couch said the plan was to give people something for a parent who is starting to have some dementia, but anyone who would like a bag can get one.

She said she has talked to the Hope Association and the Rumford Community Home to make them aware the bags are available.

“It was just something I really felt like would be a nice outreach to the elderly and the handicapped,” she said.

She learned about Memory Bags about a year ago during a workshop at a librarian’s conference at Sunday River in Newry.

“I came home and put it on the computer, and I started looking at pictures and things. …,” then when the library moved from Main Street to the Mexico Recreation Center at 15 Recreation Drive last summer, “I just kind of forgot about it. Then recently, I was looking on my desktop and I saw Memory Bags and it jogged my memory,” she said.

The library is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays. The library email is

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