a care home imageMay 24 2018

Dementia patients are being helped to rekindle memories with a multi-sensory ‘memory box’ containing items and scents of the high street chemist.

Boots has helped develop the box with Professor Victoria Tischler, Head of Dementia Care at the University of West London. “The boxes contain carefully selected items and products from the Boots archive, which tells the story of a high street brand that has been part of people’s lives through the generations,” said the company.

“The Boots archive contains over ten thousand items including original formulations and products, which many people will associate with poignant memories and life milestones. From Devonshire violet bath salts, to cod liver oil and carbolic soap, the smell of these items can help to unlock memories of the past and spark conversation and discussion for those living with dementia.”

Memory box sessions are taking place at care homes across the country during Dementia Action Week (May 21-27 2018). 

Sophie Clapp, Boots archivist, said that the reactions of residents to items from the archive have been very moving: “It’s wonderful that we have been able to use items from the Boots archive in this way. 

“When you hand a person with dementia an item that they may remember from childhood, such as an old medicine tin, or a floral scent that they probably haven’t smelled in decades, the moment of recognition is very powerful and emotional. It has been so uplifting to be part of this project.”

Professor Tischler explained why the scent aspect of the memory boxes is so important: “Smell is very powerful in triggering autobiographical memories, so memories from previous parts of our life. I’m interested in seeing how we can use the Boots archive to recreate or introduce smells that will create really positive stimulation for people living with dementia.

“The items with the strongest scents tend to attract the most interest in the sessions, partly because identifying them is a challenge and this provokes conversation amongst the group, which is exactly what we want. The importance of smell in stimulating memories is something that I will be exploring further in my continued research.”

Boots announcement