Memory boxes keep people’s minds alert

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FROM hairdryers to shawls, portable trouser presses to razor blades, memory boxes are designed to help people with dementia talk about experiences they remember.

The Memory Collection, which can be found at Portsmouth Central Library in Guildhall Square, consists of reminiscence boxes, games and puzzles, and books, which can be rented for free.

Ron Cole, left, and Symon Murrant talk about an item out of their memory box'' at The Bradbury Centre in Kingston Road''Picture: Paul Jacobs (150523-3)

Ron Cole, left, and Symon Murrant talk about an item out of their memory box'' at The Bradbury Centre in Kingston Road''Picture: Paul Jacobs (150523-3)

The Portsmouth branch of charity Age UK, in The Bradbury Centre, Kingston Road, Kingston, often hires different-themed memory boxes for elderly visitors, some of whom have a form of dementia.

One of the pledges in The News year-long campaign Take Care Together is to raise awareness of services and groups available to people with dementia.

Symon Murrant, who runs services at the centre, said: ‘Memory box is really a trigger to allow people to remember the days gone by on a specific thing.

‘It could be all sorts of topics such as dressing up for a night out or different modes of transport. Contents in the box reflect a certain era and things that happened in a particular time.

‘For people with dementia, because it’s their long-term memory that stays the best, having an item in their hand from another era can instantly take them back to when that item was used.

‘It means they can talk about their experiences of when they used to use it.’

Retired dockyard worker Ronald Cole, 83, who has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, visits the centre every day.

He said: ‘I come here five times a week and I really enjoy it. I like playing bingo and I also enjoy the quizzes as it keeps my mind active. Sometimes I forget things, but not often, but it’s a good place to talk to other people.

‘I enjoy looking at some of the older items – I have a lot of them at home in fact.

‘There are things that they bring out at the centre that I haven’t seen for yonks – it’s great.’

Violet Ellul, 87, also has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and visits the centre once a week. She said: ‘I enjoy the memory box and it’s a good idea – although it does remind me of how old I am.

‘So much has changed, so it’s good to look at items from before. There were some shoes I saw, but I would never have worn them. There was a nice shawl and bag.’