Simple trick helps dementia sufferers access their forgotten memories - putting a huge smile on their faces
Big-hearted pharmacy staff reveal how they did it - plus share more tips for those caring for elderly relatives
Looking after an elderly relative can be tough, whether you live under the same roof or many miles away.
According to charity Carers UK, more than one in five adults has had their work affected by caring responsibilities, and more than two million people have given up their jobs completely.
And it can be even more of a challenge if your relative is suffering from dementia, an issue highlighted by World Alzheimer's Day on September 21 every year.
Old fragrances can help bring back memories
Staff from a Boots store gave people with dementia and their families a special experience with a unique hospital pamper day.
Julie Redfern, store manager, and beauty adviser Ellie Holland spent the afternoon with dementia patients at a hospital, where they gave the patients treatments, including hand massages and nail painting, as well as the chance to sample fragrances and aftershaves.
Julie, 55, said she had wanted to do something to help people living with dementia after meeting so many patients and carers in store and being moved by the difficulties they face.
She said she was “overwhelmed” at how the use of smells helped bring back memories and put a smile on patients’ faces.
“It’s something I feel really passionate about,” she said. “As a pharmacy, we get to see the difficulties dementia causes, particularly to family members, who often get forgotten about.
“I encourage my staff to take time to have a conversation with them.” Of the hospital experience, she added: “We took in fragrances and aftershaves. It was really emotional to see how it brought memories back.
“It’s made me more determined to make those coming into the store, who are affected, know we care.”
How many people are suffering from dementia?
According to Alzheimer’s Society figures, there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including one in six people over the age of 80.
While carers rarely complain about the impact it has on their lives, it is always good to know there is support available.
Your local community pharmacist, such as at Boots, can help to offer advice about most aspects of caring for the health of an elderly relative, from everyday health issues to dealing with dementia, including help in understanding the condition and how to spot the early signs.
You don’t need an appointment – you can simply pop into your local Boots pharmacy store and speak to the pharmacist or any member of the pharmacy team who will be happy to answer your health questions.
Most Boots staff are on hand to discuss any symptoms that may be worrying you, such as short-term memory changes, difficulty finding the right words, confusion or a failing sense of direction.
The vital work of Dementia Friends
Boots is a supporter of Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative, which aims to change the nation’s attitude towards the condition, by encouraging people to become a Dementia Friend.
Being a Dementia Friend simply means learning more about the condition and turning your understanding into action. From being more patient in a shop queue to campaigning for change, every action counts.
As part of Boots’ commitment, as many colleagues as possible are encouraged to join the Dementia Friends initiative.
It is already having positive results, with staff all over the country doing little things that can make a huge difference.
A Boots spokesperson talked of one example, saying: “A member of staff on her way to the car park saw an elderly lady looking extremely confused. She was in a lot of distress.
“This lady glanced at her Dementia Friend badge. This instantly put the lady at ease and she calmed down and explained that she had dementia and couldn’t remember where she had parked her car.
“The Boots colleague was then able to help her find her car.”