Due to Covid-19, the Dementia Friends face-to-face and group services are suspended until further notice to help try and keep everyone safe.

If you need any advice or support during this difficult time, please call the Dementia Connect Support Line on 0333 150 3456 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk.

Living with dementia

Learn about dementia and ways of supporting loved ones with or affected by it

What is Dementia Friends?

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme aims to change people’s perceptions of dementia to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. Dementia Connect offers help and support online for those caring for people with dementia.

At Boots we want everyone who shops with us to feel safe, calm and comfortable, which is why many of our colleagues have become Dementia Friends. People with dementia and their carers will find support and understanding at Boots, as we have at least one Dementia Friend in every store in the UK.* Dementia Friends have an understanding of what it can be like to live with dementia and can be a patient, friendly face to those living with or affected by dementia. Look out for Boots colleagues wearing Dementia Friends badges in store.

We’re committed to caring and are proud that working with Dementia Friends has made a real difference to our customers and their families lives.

Boots offers a number of services that can help make life easier for those living with dementia:

• Free Repeat Prescription Service (available at participating Boots stores and GP surgeries): Boots will collect your prescription from your GP and let you know when your medicines are ready, either to collect from store or have delivered to your home, meaning fewer trips to the surgery.

• Electronic Prescription Service (available in England only): Boots will have your prescriptions sent straight to your local Pharmacy to pick up at a time to suit you, without you needing to worry about paper prescriptions.

• Medisure service: This free service can help people remember when to take their medicines by storing them in weekly blister packs, so all the medicines you need to take at the same time of day are packed together in one individual blister.

* Subject to colleague availability in store

What is dementia?

There are currently over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, and the number is growing rapidly - it's estimated that 225,000 people will develop dementia this year.*

Dementia is a condition which is caused by diseases of the brain. There are different types of dementia which can affect how the brain functions in various ways and at different rates. Types of dementia include mixed dementia, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy Bodies, frontotemporal dementia disease and Alzheimer’s, which is the most common. 

There’s currently no cure for dementia, but getting an early diagnosis can make all the difference to those living with the condition such as helping to manage the symptoms and maintain brain function, to making sure the right support and treatment is in place so they can lead active, fulfilled lives.

*Alzheimer’s Society, Facts for the Media, Who is Affected?

Signs of dementia

If you’re worried a friend or family member may have dementia, look out for these common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis:

• Memory loss

• Difficulty concentrating

• Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks (such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping)

• Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word

• Being confused about time and place

• Mood changes including inappropriate affection or aggression

You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But others will go on to develop dementia. If you’re worried about yourself or someone else visit www.alzheimers.org.uk for more information, or call the Dementia Connect Support Line on 0333 150 3456 or speak to a doctor for advice and help.

Caring for someone with dementia

As dementia progresses, people will rely more on others to do things for them. It’s important that they feel reassured and supported, while still maintaining some level of independence.

People with dementia may need support with everyday tasks, so you could help them feel safer and more secure by creating a routine for them based in a familiar, relaxed environment. It’s important to make sure dementia doesn’t deprive them of their hobbies and interests – try cooking together, going for a walk or doing some gardening. People with dementia may also need some help when it comes to making sure they’re eating a healthy, balanced diet as poor nutrition or lack of food can lead to other illnesses.

If you’re supporting someone with dementia it can feel difficult at times, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Talking to family and friends can help or if you’re feeling like you need a little more support, speak to someone at Dementia Connect. They’ll not only be able to provide you with support and regular check-ups from expert Dementia Advisers. But also help with the unique challenges that people are facing due to the pandemic and lockdown, including offering non face-to-face support. You can find even more support on Dementia and Coronavirus hereTalking Point is another great resource for carers and people living with dementia. It’s a brilliant community peer-to-peer support group offering great tips, advice and personal support.

Supporting someone with dementia at home

For people with dementia and their carers who live with them, staying at home for a long period of time can be difficult. Here are some suggestions you may find helpful during the current coronavirus outbreak if you’re a carer.

Look after your own mental health

We understand it’s hard but it’s important to remember that this period of isolation won’t be forever. Think about the positive aspects of your life. As a carer you continue to make a massive difference to the person you are supporting.

For a while, the number of people getting ill with coronavirus will rise. If this makes you feel afraid or anxious, this is completely normal. Use the NHS website for the most up-to-date information. If you ever feel overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety or depression, you can call your GP to ask for help.  

Keep active

Staying active whilst staying at home will help fight off boredom and frustration. During this difficult time, it might help to think of new or less usual tasks around the home that can help you remain active.

Stay connected

While we’re all staying at home for so long, it can be easy to feel isolated and lonely. You may have friends and family who themselves are anxious about the current situation. Staying in touch will help everyone to cope with daily life and get through this difficult time. Connect with the people who matter to you the most by phone, post, text, email or Skype. Use whichever method works best for you. You could arrange a regular time of day to connect, to help give you something to look forward to.

Follow a daily routine

A routine can help to make staying at home easier. It can help everyone to know what to expect on a given day and feel less anxious. You might find it easier to do things at the same time each day or week. Remember to keep things straightforward to reduce stress and manage expectations.  It might not be possible to follow your normal routine, for example, if this usually includes several daily walks. Try to find alternatives based on what the person particularly enjoys whether it’s exercise, fresh air or hearing birdsong. Take things one step at a time – try to focus on one thing at a time and break each task down into smaller steps. 

Keep good hygiene

Good respiratory and hand hygiene helps to stop coronavirus spreading. This is important for everyone, but particularly for people with dementia and older carers.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser if this isn’t possible

• Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Not into your hands

• Put used tissues straight into the bin

• Where, possible avoid touching your face

It’s also a good idea to regularly clean items that are touched often including remote controls, telephones, taps and door handles.

Supporting research

Boots has been supporting pioneering research which looks at the link between the senses and memory. Working with Professor Victoria Tischler, the Associate Professor in the Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter, we put together some sensory boxes featuring items from the Boots archive such as fragrances, photos and medicine jars, and held workshops in a care home. ‘’Items can stimulate interesting discussions and promote positive feelings. Distinct smells, shapes or packaging can provoke curiosity and engagement,” says Victoria. “Our research found that this led to interesting conversations about family life and jobs.”**

During Dementia action week in 2019, Boots ran a series of memory box sessions in selected care homes, which continued to contribute to the research.

**Griffiths S, Dening T, Beer C, Tischler V. Mementos from Boots multisensory boxes – Qualitative evaluation of an intervention for people with dementia: Innovative practice. Dementia, 0(0) 1–9 , 2016

Create a memory box

To help you start a positive conversation with your loved one, you could create a memory box to share with them. This can help trigger buried memories, so those with dementia can better connect with the present. You could include:

  • Favourite photos - check out some of our own from the Boots Archive

  • Familiar smells from the past such as baby powder, lavender, bath soap, cinnamon, essential oils etc.

  • CDs of their favourite musicians, or DVDs of their favourite films

  • A letter from a loved one

  • You can find images of reproduction packaging which are freely available for you to download and use as a therapeutic resource for people with dementia - find them in our Boots Archive

  • You can find full guidance on how to create a memory box here

Coronavirus means people living with dementia need us more than ever before. Every donation will go a long way in helping people with dementia and their carers through the pandemic and lockdown.