The BBC service that is helping people with dementia

A BBC service providing resources for reminiscence, and designed specifically to help those with dementia, has received resounding support from its users with 73% of surveys respondents reporting it had helped them trigger long-term memories.

BBC RemArc service available through BBC Taster

The BBC RemArc service was launched in May 2016 with help from experts in dementia care from the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews, and the Alzheimer's Society. It provides a wide range of archive footage on a range of subject matter from each of the decades from the 1930s through to 2000. It can be accessed easily by anyone free of charge on a tablet or computer.

We know that reminiscence can be a powerful way of connecting people affected by dementia with their memories and improving their mood.

People who have used BBC’s RemArc talk really positively about their experience of it as a helpful reminiscence tool and enjoyable activity.

Kathryn Smith 
Alzheimer's Society

Reminiscence resources

The channel provides access to around 1,500 pieces of footage including video, audio and images. Users can choose to explore the material either by decade or topic.

BBC RemArc service aims to provide opportunities for reminiscence for those with dementia

Screenshot from BBC RemArc

Trigger long-term memories

Dementia tends to erase short term memories very quickly, but memories from people's earlier lives (typically ages 14 to 40) often remain intact much longer. Photographs and film footage from this period can ofter trigger memories, stimulate meaningful conversation with family members and carers, and prove hugely enjoyable, ultimately improving quality of life.

I have again and again seen the difference between interacting with and without this kind of carefully designed technological help – and the difference is unbelievable.

RemArc is a boon to people with dementia and just as importantly to their carers, who can sit back, relax, and enjoy the conversation, with RemArc doing all the heavy lifting of supporting the interaction and keeping it lively, engaging and, importantly, unpredictable.

Dr Norman Alm 
Dundee University

BBC RemArc is available for free, globally, and works on all browsers. The software is available for free under an open source licence, so that people can build their own reminiscence archives or reversion RemArc with new languages.

BBC RemArc service available through BBC Taster

Try it out for yourself. Find RemArc on BBC Taster by clicking the link here-

To read more about the aims and making of BBC RemArc, visit the BBC blog-

Source: BBC Media Centre

How Tablet computers can help reduce agitation in dementia patients

The use of tablet computers has been found by researchers in the US to be a safe and highly effective tool to reduce the agitation so commonly experienced by those living with Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia.

Reporting the team's findings in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Ipsit Vahia, medical director of Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital, the psychiatric hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School, states...

“Tablet use as a nonpharmacologic intervention for agitation in older adults, including those with severe dementia, appears to be feasible, safe, and of potential utility.”

The research buillt upon previous studies demonstrating that art, music, and other similar therapies can effectively reduce symptoms of dementia without medication. By using tablet devices to employ these therapies, however, patients and providers also benefit from a computer’s inherent flexibility.

“The biggest advantage is versatility,” said Vahia.

“We know that art therapy can work, music therapy can work. The tablet, however, gives you the option of switching from one app to another easily, modifying the therapy seamlessly to suit the individual. You don’t need to invest in new equipment or infrastructure.”

Researchers loaded a menu of 70 apps onto the tablets for the study. The apps were freely available on iTunes and varied greatly in their cognitive complexity; from an app that displayed puppy photos to one that featured Sudoku puzzles.

The researchers found that tablet use was safe for every patient, regardless of the severity of their dementia, and that with proper supervision and training, the engagement rate with the devices was nearly 100 percent. The study also found that the tablets demonstrated significant effectiveness in reducing symptoms of agitation, particularly but not exclusively among patients with milder forms of dementia.

Vahia cited several examples of the tablet’s potential to improve a patient’s condition. One particular patient, who only spoke Romanian, was very withdrawn and irritable, and medications were ineffective in controlling his symptoms.

“We started showing him Romanian video clips on YouTube, and his behavior changed dramatically and instantaneously,” said Vahia.

“His mood improved. He became more interactive. He and his medical support team also started using a translation app so that staff could ask him simple questions in Romanian, facilitating increased interaction. These significant improvements are a clear testament of the tablet’s potential as a clinical tool.”

This research has obvious implications for anyone caring for someone with dementia. With such a vast range of apps now so easily available the use of a tablet is open to all. The ability to tailor games and activities to the interests of the individual makes it an ideal tool to capture the person's interest, stimulate, provide enjoyment and thus ultimately help calm agitation. So why not give it a go!


Doing something positive with dementia..Stroud Memory Walks

Established in 2014, and going strong ever since, Stroud Memory Walks have become a popular and  well established event on the calendar for anyone living with dementia in the Stroud and surrounding district.

The aim of the dementia-friendly walks in Stroud's beautiful Stratford Park is to do something positive for dementia. The walks provide an opportunity to socialise and make friends while getting some fresh air, gentle exercise, and enjoying nature.

The video below gives a flavour of what the walks mean to those taking part...

The Stroud Memory Walks are a joint venture involving Fair Shares, the Museum in the Park, Stroud Valleys Project and Dementia Adventure.

Emma OrdonezWalks Coordinator

“The idea behind these walks is to give people a chance to get out into nature and enjoy the sensory experience that being in the great outdoors brings. We encourage people to smell the flowers and touch the bark of trees, watch the squirrels and try to spot the resident cat.

People living with dementia will need to bring a carer with them as the volunteer walk leaders will not be carrying out a caring role.

Participants will need to wear appropriate clothing and we would encourage people to bring a packed lunch so that we can sit down afterwards and enjoy each other’s company.

 Although we are promoting these walks to people living with dementia, they are open to anyone who would enjoy a sensory walk in the park”.

The walks, which take about an hour, have been specially designed to be accessible to those living with dementia at all stages, and are wheelchair friendly.

Carers, friends and family are encouraged to come along and the group is very friendly and welcoming.​

All the walks are free of charge and refreshments are available. 

Walks  are planned throughout the Summer months, the next ones being Friday 13th May and Friday 27th May​. Meet at 10.30am in the Courtyard outside the Museum in the Park, Stratford Park, Stroud GL5 4AF.

For more information and to book a place,
contact Chris on 01453 706555 or visit

Dementia tips: Coping with sundowning

Sundowning describes an increase in agitation, confusion or irritability that sets in towards the end of the day as the light starts to fade, and gets worse during the evening and night.

Experienced by as many as 1 in 5 people living with Alzheimer’s Disease, it is most common in the mid to later stages of the disease, and although particularly associated with Alzheimer’s it also affects people living with other forms of dementia as well.

Coming as it does at the end of the day or middle of the night when carers are already tired and less able to cope with the inevitable frustration and interruption to sleep, it is often cited by loved ones as one of the most upsetting and troubling effects of dementia.​

Sundowning and dementia
Medics are unsure about the causes of sundowning but most agree that fading light in the evening and darkness at night are the main triggers.

Signs of sundowning to watch out for






Becoming demanding or suspicious

Hearing or Seeing things that aren’t there

Yelling or Pacing

Factors that might contribute to sundowning behaviour

Less light and more shadows in the house can lead to confusion and fear.

An upset to the ‘internal body clock’, resulting from the disease’s damage to the brain, can cause a biological mix-up between night and day.

Disorientation resulting from an inability to distinguish between dreams and reality.

Reduced need for sleep and disturbance in sleep patterns common in older age.

Reaction to unintended body language from a carer as frustration and tiredness kick in at the end of a long and busy day of caregiving.

Discomfort (caused by thirst, hunger, pain), depression or boredom could all make the symptoms worse.

Coping strategies for dealing with sundowning behaviour

* First and foremost seek help…

In exactly the same way that airlines instruct those looking after others to put on their own oxygen mask before attending to others, carers need to look after their own needs first. If you are emotionally drained and physically exhausted, you won’t be in the best position to stay calm and collected under pressure.

All carers need help, either from other family members or a home care provider to give you a little respite. Take a nap if possible during the day, and try to keep in touch with friends and/or a support group to keep your spirits up.

* Talk to your doctor.

It is important to rule out physical ailments (such as urinary tract infections, sleep apnea, incontinence etc) that could be contributing to sleep problems, and then discuss possible ways forward to help your loved one.

*Try to work out the particular triggers that prompt the agitation and confusion, and attempt to alleviate them.

Ways to help

Here are our some tried and tested coping strategies that can really help…

Keep household lighting bright and avoid dark shadows.

Everyone’s eyesight deteriorates with age, so increasing light levels by adding extra lamps and using brighter lightbulbs can reduce the potential for upset and confusion caused by darkness and shadows as the light begins to fade.

Close curtains as it becomes dark to reduce the possibility of confusion caused by reflections or glare.

Do everything you can to aid sleep at night.

Stay active during the day, discourage napping and encourage gentle exercise.

Avoid, or limit, things that could disturb sleep. Try to avoid alcohol or tobacco as far as possible, and limit caffeine intake to mornings only.

Have your main meal at lunchtime and keep the evening meal small and light to aid digestion before bedtime.

Create a comfortable and reassuring sleep environment. Ensure the temperature is comfortable, fit night lights to reduce darkness, and make sure a clock is easily visible.

Keep things calm in the evening.

Relaxing music, playing cards or dominoes, or even folding laundry can all provide gentle stress relieving activities to help you wind down in the evening before bed.

Bear in mind watching TV can cause stress if the person watching can’t follow what’s going on.

Avoid arguments, keep things calm and provide lots of reassurance to maintain a calm atmosphere.

Ensure a safe environment.

Set up a baby monitor, motion detector or door sensors to alert you if your loved one is moving about in the middle of night.

Fit window locks, use a gate to block the stairs and put away anything that could prove dangerous.

Use night lights to light up dark corners in the bedroom and mark the pathway to the bathroom.

If someone wakes up agitated....

Approach with a quiet, calm, and reassuring manner.

Find out if the person is uncomfortable or needs something.

Gently tell the person what time it is.

Don’t argue.

Provide reassurance that everything is ok.

Avoid any temptation to use physical restraint. If the person needs to pace, let them do so while providing reassurance and reminders that it’s still bedtime.

Article courtesy of

Santa Forgot…the Christmas video for Alzheimer’s Research UK

The flurry of Christmas ads that come out at this time of year all aim to pull at out heartstrings - usually very successfully. The one this year from Alzheimer's Research UK is no exception, but for very good reason.

The charity is striving to shatter the misconception that dementia is an inevitable part of ageing.

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Santa Forgot is a poignant and powerful reminder that dementia doesn’t discriminate. We have to be provocative about dementia, to help fight misconceptions and fatalism around the condition and to demonstrate that pioneering research holds the answers.

Designed to be particularly hard hitting, the video explores the shattering idea that Santa has developed Alzheimer's disease and is no longer able to deliver his presents to children around the world on Christmas Eve. But one little girl refuses to give up on him.....

Produced by Aardman Animations (creators of Wallace and Gromit), and narrated by Stephen Fry, the message of the video is clear. In just the same way that it is research that has opened the door towards finding a cure for Cancer and AIDS, research also holds the answer to starting the fight back against the physical diseases which cause dementia.

"Santa Forgot reminds us to believe in the power of research.” 
Hilary Evans, CEO Alzheimer's Research UK

Liz Ayre an Alzheimer’s Research UK Champion: Liz lost her husband Mike to early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013 aged just 51. Their daughter Ciana voices Freya in the animation.

“Santa Forgot is beautiful, sad and hopeful all at once and stirred so many different emotions when we watched it. The film shows that dementia doesn’t discriminate: it affects people from so many different backgrounds from nurses and teachers to world leaders and eloquent writers.

“If we’re ever going to change how society views, or often ignores, dementia, we have to be a bit confrontational and challenge people’s misconceptions. I hope Santa Forgot gives people two minutes to think about the impact of dementia this Christmas, and be inspired by how we can change the future with research. I’m proud that my family has been involved in the campaign, and to hear Ciana bring Freya’s voice to life in the animation is a special moment for us and a great tribute to Mike.”

Liz Ayre
Alzheimer's Research UK Champion                 

10 key tips for caring for someone with dementia

Becoming a carer for someone living with the dementia is one of the most challenging roles you're ever likely to take on.

Here, dementia expert, Christina MacDonald, Content Director for leading brain and mind clinic Re:Cognition Health, shares her key tips.

1. Enlist a support crew

“You can’t do it on your ow,n so enlist the support of trusted friends, family and neighbours and accept help when it is offered, even if you think you won’t need it straight away.”

2. Knowledge is power

“Speak to professional organisations for advice and support – your local authority, Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Dementia UK, Carers UK, and visit online resources including The Alzheimer’s Show website – and do your research on local support and funding available. More information on these can be found in Christina's new book, Dementia Care: A Guide.”

3. Mentally detach yourself when you need to

“It’s important to remember that dementia is a disease of the brain, so a person with dementia could be susceptible to sudden and unpredictable mood swings, often without warning. It is the disease talking, not the individual, and because they can’t change their behaviour, you need to learn to detach yourself from the situation. Give them some space to calm down if need be.”

4. Be in a good place when you visit

“A person with dementia can be happy one minute and angry the next. As moods can be erratic, be prepared for all situations when you visit (if you don’t live with the person you’re a carer for). If you are tired, stressed or not in a good place, it will not benefit either person.”

5. Exercise regularly

“The endorphins released when exercising are mood enhancing. Exercising with the person you are caring for will benefit you both, helping to clear the mind and help reduce symptoms of sundowning (when a person with dementia can be susceptible to mood swings late afternoon or early evening when the sun goes down).”

6. Distract and deflect

“Don’t talk about bereavements – even though they may have happened a very long time ago, they can be perceived as news to the person and trigger episodes of grief. When you can, change the subject when asked about where a deceased person is – you may find it’s a brief moment that you can move on from very quickly.”

7. Encourage the person to socialise

“Social interaction will make a difference to the person’s mood and mental awareness. Encourage the person to get involved in activities or mix with others as mental stimulation helps. Know when to back off if they don’t want to do something and don’t forget to mix yourself – befriending other carers is an excellent opportunity to vent, share and support, or having a coffee with those unaffected by dementia will give you a chance to switch off from your caring duties.”

8. Establish a routine

“A regular routine and familiar environment will make the person feel secure. If you are planning a day trip, find a favourite place where the person feels comfortable or associates with happy memories.”

9. Prepare for the future

“The time will come when the person with dementia can no longer be left alone, so it’s advisable to start planning, preparing and thinking about the future as soon as possible. Make sure paperwork is in order, organise Lasting Power of Attorneys for Property & Finance and Health & Welfare, notify the DVLA of the person’s dementia diagnosis and locate important documents you may need to manage in future such as bank statements and bills.”

10. Look after yourself

“A healthy carer makes a good carer; you can’t look after someone else if you don’t take care of yourself. Take time out, have regular daily breaks and short holidays away when you need them.”


New app provides virtual reality view of dementia

Alzheimers Research UK have developed a virtual reality app that helps you experience the world through the eyes of someone living with dementia.

A Walk through Dementia​

A Walk Through Dementia is an Android-exclusive app which gives users a 360-degree video experience that shows how simple tasks can become extremely complex for people suffering from the disease.

Featuring 3 everyday situations - At the Supermarket, On the Road, and At Home - the app aims to demonstrate how dementia goes beyond simply forgetting things, but compromises your senses and thereby affects your perception of the world around you.

Narrated by Olivier Award-winning actress Dame Harriet Walter, the 5 star rated app is free to download from the Google Play Store. It is available as a video version which you can view on your phone or tablet, or by purchasing a cardboard headset, you can experience the film in full virtual reality.

Watch the launch clip for the app here.

Trina Armstrong, who is living with posterior cortical atrophy, a form of Alzheimer’s disease, and advised on the project, said:

“Anyone living with dementia will experience it uniquely, but I hope A Walk Through Dementia will provide people with an idea of what the world is like for me. Everyday things like popping to the supermarket or making a cup of tea are things I used to take for granted, but dementia presents a real barrier to my everyday life in ways that people often don’t realise.

It’s been empowering for me to feed some of my symptoms and experiences into the app and see them re-created. I hope it will encourage the public to think differently about dementia and the people living with the condition they might meet.”

Click here to visit for details on how to download the app and get hold of the cardboard headset priced £5.99.

Volunteers urgently needed to take part in dementia research

SCIENTISTS are urgently seeking people to take part in dementia research amid a surge in studies into the disease.

The number of drug trials to treat Alzheimer’s disease has almost doubled worldwide since 2013 with 19 studies on potential treatments currently underway in the UK alone, putting pressure on scientists to recruit enough suitable participants to help develop new therapies.

Now dementia sufferers or those without diagnosed dementia but who are experiencing memory problems are being invited to sign up to Join Dementia Research, a service aimed at pairing volunteers with suitable clinical trials.

Changes in the brain in diseases like Alzheimer’s can start many years before symptoms show, so studying people with mild memory problems gives researchers the best chance of understanding how dementia develops and finding ways to stop it.

There have been no new drugs to treat dementia in over a decade however.

Professor Craig Ritchie
Edinburgh University

Dementia research is critically important, not least because of the huge number of people it affects. Although we have some drugs that manage some of the symptoms of dementia, we have a long way to go in terms of modifying the course of the disease.

However, only by conducting high quality research will we be able to get conclusive evidence and move treatments forward. To do this research we’re relying on people who are experiencing the very earliest stages of memory problems to come forward and offer to take part.​

Anyone interested in taking part in a research study can sign up to Join Dementia Research online at

Join Dementia Research is open to anyone over the age of 18 and people can act as a representative to register a loved one, including someone who has dementia who may find it difficult to register themselves.

To date, 19,711 people have registered and 5,498 taken part in research studies.

Wendy Mitchell, who has young onset dementia, is among the volunteers.

She said: “There currently is no cure and without willing volunteers to try out new drugs there will continue to be no cure. Taking part in research is my way of feeling useful again and contributing to finding that elusive treatment which in turn will create a better world for my children.”

Article by Helen McArdle, first published 19th July 2016 Herald Scotland

The Songaminute Man reminds us of the joy as much as the sadness that comes with dementia care

Simon McDermott has made an internet star of his Dad by sharing videos of their carpool karoake sessions together.

79 year old Dad Ted's memory has deteriorated greatly since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2013, but singing says Simon "gets him back in the room".

Simon set up Facebook page The Songaminute Man to share videos of his dad, who got the nickname because of how many songs he knows, and the reception they  have received has been phenomenal. Check out their version of Volare below.... its bound to bring a smile to your face!

Explaining his motivation for filming, Simon wrote on the Just Giving page...

“I’m fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society because of the advice they’ve given us in the last few years. Without them we would have had very little idea or support about how to deal with even the basics of Dad’s condition.

“The more Alzheimer’s kicked in, the more Dad became violent – both physically and verbally – it was incredibly difficult to manage. And terrifying at times.”

He explains that his dad used to be a Butlins Redcoat and then travelled around singing in clubs around the country. After he got married and began working in a factory he continued to sing on the side.

“In the last few years his memory has deteriorated a lot – often not recognising me as his son. Its a horrible illness. However, now when we’ve got him singing again he’s back in the room. It’s these moments that we treasure.

“The plan is to share as much of Dad’s singing as we can and hopefully it will help raise money to fund the work of the Alzheimer’s Society – more specifically to go towards paying for a person at the end of the phoneline to help other people like us.”

From an initial target of £1,000, they are now up to a staggering £108,025 as I write this! Here at Dementia Care Stroud we wish them every success and look forward to some more great singing.

For more great videos and to lend your here to visit...
The Songaminute Man page on Facebook,
The Songaminute Man JustGiving page,
The Songaminute Man videos on YouTube


5 Father’s Day ideas to help dementia-affected families

Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to spend time together as a family, but the celebration can be stressful for people living with dementia.

Too much noise, unfamiliar situations, and hustle and bustle can all be a source of anxiety to someone coping with Alzheimer’s or one of the other forms of dementia, and can spoil what should be enjoyable time together.

The key to success is to keep things as relaxed and stress-free as possible, so keep in mind our 5 tips to keep things simple and fun...

Plan family meals carefully

Noisy environments and formal meals which often entail long periods of sitting still and waiting can be a source of restlessness and anxiety.

If you’re planning to go out, notify the restaurant in advance and request a table out of the way where you are not going to be squashed and there is room to move about. Choose a quiet time when they are less busy so you’re not kept waiting too long.

If you’re having a family meal at home, try to keep things informal with opportunities to get up and walk about between courses and a chance for your Dad to get away from the hustle and bustle momentarily- particularly if the gathering is large, in unfamiliar surroundings or there are young children around.

Organise activities at home

If going out may prove stressful either for your Dad, or you and the rest of the family, why not organise some activities in your Dad’s own home.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy for everyone just to enjoy time spent together.

If it’s nice weather you could try a bit of gardening. This can be relaxing and may bring back happy memories for him of playing outside as a child. Or prepare a simple meal together which you can all then enjoy at leisure.

Choose activities that involve everyone

Another great idea that can be enjoyed by everyone is organising old photographs. A fun afternoon can be spent creating a family album together reminiscing about happy times.

Create a playlist of favourite music

Music is one of the last memories to be affected by dementia so listening to favourite tracks from a person’s younger days can really enhance mood , provide opportunities for reminiscence and even a sing-along.

To get the maximum impact it’s important to find the exact songs/tunes your Dad likes, not just the general genre. Create a playlist that collects these favourite tracks together in one place so it’s easy to listen to them again on future occasions.

Stay within your Dad’s comfort zone

Try not to choose activities that are new or unexpected for Father’s Day as this could inadvertently increase everyone’s stress levels and end up not being enjoyable for you or your Dad.

Stick to known activities you can easily adapt to suit your circumstances. Avoid anything inflexible like the theatre or cinema, or anywhere where there are likely to be large crowds. A walk in the park or a picnic where you can choose how long you stay according to your Dad’s mood may work well.

What’s important is not what you do, but how well included your Dad feels. Be prepared to adjust how you normally do things to respond to his mood and keep the day as calm and stress free as possible.

Simply spending time together is what’s important. A pleasant afternoon spent together enjoying a simple home cooked meal, a short walk, or listening to music can really enhance your Dad’s mood and, for you,  create happy memories of time spent together. 

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