Dementia DVD

Old film clips stir memories in people with dementia

Film clips of everyday life in 20th-century Scotland are being used to trigger memories among people with dementia and help in their care.

Copies of a DVD are being given away free by the National Library of Scotland (NLS) to support family carers and staff in residential homes in engaging with people with dementia.

The Library is working with the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling to make 1,000 copies of the DVD available across Scotland in a major boost to dementia care.

The DVD 'The journey of life' celebrates key moments from childhood and school days, courtship and marriage, work life, home life, holidays and leisure. All the films are from the Library's Scottish Screen Archive and depict a portrait of life that, in many cases, has now gone forever.

It will be formally launched today (November 13) at a special event at the Library.

Memories from years ago often remain intact in people with dementia and recalling these memories can be immensely therapeutic and enjoyable for them. The DVD will be used to help trigger these memories and allow people with dementia to share their knowledge and skills.

Professor June Andrews, Director of the DSDC said: 'These brilliant films are ideal for stimulating conversations and laughter. People with dementia and their carers sometimes feel depressed, and boredom can only make that worse. The films are interesting for all ages. I have found the best fun is to be had if you watch them with someone from a different generation. I learn such a lot from older people with dementia, particularly because their earliest memories are preserved for the longest time and these film clips can open the door into their past.'

Remembering childhood, school, jobs, friends and holidays can all be topics for enjoyable and beneficial conversations. It can help people with dementia improve their self-esteem and give them a sense of value and belonging. It can also help to reduce anxiety and agitation.

Ruth Washbrook, Senior Curator at NLS's Scottish Screen Archive, said: 'I have worked closely with reminiscence and care home workers to produce the DVDs and ensure they are entertaining and effective as possible.'

'The entertainment and educational potential of the archive is immense and it's fantastic that by simply changing how we present our footage it can bring so many advantages and personal benefits to viewers. This enables the elderly and people with memory impairment to see some of our distinctive archive material while also encouraging them to reminisce about their own lives, share experiences and socially interact.'

This is the fourth DVD of its kind to be produced by the Library's Scottish Screen Archive. The previous three were on 'Glasgow's landmarks', 'Entertainment' and 'The Home Front — World War 2'. They have already been a hit with a number of care homes and community groups and it is hoped that 'The journey of llfe' will be just as popular.

Following the initial give away 'The journey of llfe' will be available to purchase from Scottish Screen Archive, priced £15. The other specially produced DVDs in the series are also available priced £10 each. For more information call 0845 366 4000 or email

This project has been generously supported by the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation.

13 November 2012

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