Mementoes from times gone by have been neatly boxed-up to assist dementia patients in Cheshire to remember the past.
Dr. Jenna Littlejohn, Head of Research and Dementia at Deafness Support Network (DSN) created the boxes which contain keepsakes and personal items, as well as items which change seasonally and act as a valuable link to patient’s life stories.
Currently Dr. Littlejohn works alongside a team at DSN who deliver sessions at their regular 'You Me And Tea' dementia cafe’s in Northwich and throughout Cheshire. They are also available for loan for people to do reminiscence activities themselves at home.
Dr Littlejohn said: “For those living with dementia, general day-to-day activities, once so simple, can become very challenging and confusing. Trying to trace their memories or remember simple moments from their life, whether a holiday or what their job was can be tremendously difficult to recapture and that is where the memory boxes help.”
Dementia is a brain disorder which is caused by disease or injury, with symptoms such as personality changes, memory loss and impaired reasoning. Communication can also be affected in dementia, and even more so in someone with a hearing loss and dementia. Items from the past can become an important ‘touchstone’ for those living with dementia as the world increasingly becomes alien to them.
The boxes are now being used by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) on Croft Ward at Macclesfield Hospital, a dementia care unit.
Dr Littlejohn added: “Sensory stimulation is important so our boxes aim to increase communication and stimulation by using senses, for example, smells or tactile items for people with hearing loss. We wanted to be able to share these resources with other people with dementia who can't necessarily come into our lounge or attend cafes so they are now available for loan.”
Felicity Sharpley, Occupational Therapist at CWP, stated: “The keepsake boxes have been integrated into reminiscence activities on Croft Ward. Service users with dementia have enjoyed inspecting the objects, socialising and discussing memories associated with childhood and springtime. Sensory objects with unusual textures, reflective material or applique provides cognitive stimulation for service users with severe dementia. The relationship with Deafness Support Network has been beneficial to Croft Ward in incorporating new resources into therapy to promote daily wellbeing for service user’s undergoing treatment.”