Here's How Aero Bars May Make Dementia More Manageable

Get ready for some nostalgia.
Lucas Oleniuk via Getty Images

If you love chocolate, you’ll probably know that some of your favourite brands have changed over the years.

Marathon became Snickers; Opal Fruits became Fruit Pastilles; and even if the name of your beloved bar hasn’t changed, the packaging may have.

Though not every packaging is as, err, notable as Lyle’s recently-removed rotting bee-filled lion, lots of it gets stuck in your head.

And as Alzheimer’s Society UK says, spotting the branding you grew up with can be seriously comforting to those suffering from dementia.

Alison Cook from the organisation says: “Even something as simple as an old sweet wrapper can bring back vivid memories from a happy time.“

The organisation advised Nestlé when they sought to create a “reminiscence package” which contains board games and even printable, build-your-own boxes and true-to-size chocolate wrappers.

What’s in the package?

Reproducible old-school wrappers include those for the original Nesquik tins as well as out-of-production brands like Chocolate Pie and, of course, the original designs for chocolate bars like Aero.

Once saved, you can print these images out, cut them, and then stick them to similarly-sized bars. Or you can just give the PDFs a peek out of interest.

“This activity helps carers and loved ones to engage with people with dementia in a positive way, and has the potential to improve the quality of life for the 800,000 living with dementia in the UK,” Alison Cook shared.


Why are nostalgic products soothing to those with dementia?

It’s not just nice for those with dementia to look back at things they grew up with, research suggests. And of course, the nostalgia doesn’t have to come from chocolate bars.

A 2018 study involving participants with varying levels of dementia played nostalgic music to one group, but not to another.

Those who experienced nostalgia had “significantly increased self-reported social connectedness, meaning in life, self-continuity, optimism, self-esteem, and positive (but not negative) affect.”

“Compared to controls, nostalgic participants also recalled significantly more self-referent dementia-related information,” the study found.

Additionally, the paper’s researchers suggest that nostalgia “lends participants the fortitude to face the threat posed by their illness.”

In other words, those who felt nostalgic may be more able to cope with their dementia, the study posits.

That’s not all

Additionally, a 2022 study suggests that nostalgia may occupy a special place in the minds of those with dementia.

“Despite their cognitive impairment, people living with dementia experience nostalgia in similar ways to cognitively healthy adults,” the study found.

They also found that nostalgic narratives “expressed more positive affect, and had more expressions of self-esteem and self-continuity” among those with dementia.

“They were also rated higher on companionship, connectedness and the closeness of relationships, and reflected life as being meaningful,” researchers say.

Lastly, a 2017 study (published in 2019) found that “Nostalgic memories were experienced differently from non-nostalgic memories” among those with dementia.

“Nostalgic memories tended to be more self-relevant, prominently featured people and sometimes assumed a redemption sequence” and “nostalgic memories significantly increased social connectedness, self-esteem, meaning in life, self-continuity, optimism and positive (but not negative) affect relative to non-nostalgic memories,” the study found.

However, the 2017 study noted that these results either were not as strong or did not exist among especially neurotic participants or those who were less “resilient” and those with less ” trait deficit-reduction.“

Overall, however, it seems that harking back to the good old days really can be a net positive for a lot of people with dementia ― whether that be through a classic tune or an iconic choccy bar.

Can I use this as propaganda to get the Mars Delight back, please?