Four Programmes That Will Help You Understand Dementia Better

Written by Active Minds on Thursday the 21st of September 2017.


Being diagnosed with, or having a loved one diagnosed with, dementia can be an incredibly frightening experience filled with questions, uncertainties and concerns about what the future holds for you and your loved ones. Knowledge really is power when it comes to a dementia diagnosis, the more you understand the disease, the more you can prepare for what lies ahead. There are a great deal of resources available to help you understand the illness better, including books and charities, as well as TV programmes and films.


Documentaries are an obvious option, as they can give honest, fly-on-the-wall observations on dementia and its affects, as well as interviewing professionals for an in-depth discussion on the disease. However, whilst some fictional dramas can use dementia as purely an interesting plot point to help move a story along or indeed pull on the audience’s heart strings, there are a few dramas that have managed to explore and portray dementia in a way that helps the viewer understand the disease and its impact further.

Here are our top four documentary and drama picks:

My Life: Mr Alzheimer’s and Me 

This poignant and uplifting CBBC programme explores dementia through the eyes of 3 children, helping young people understand how their grandparents’ dementia can affect their personality and behaviour.


Panorama: Living With Dementia – Chris’s Story

Following 55 year old Chris as he and his family come to terms with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. From making the decision to choose his own care home to writing a living will, getting lost in his own house and not recognising his family, Chris chronicles his changing life as his independence slips away. Once a businessman and keen biker, he now struggles to walk and talk – his life beset by frustration, yet his remarkable insight allows us into his world.


Still Alice

This astonishing film takes a stark and brutal look at an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and its affects. When Dr Alice Howland (played by Julianne Moore) is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s shortly after her 50th birthday, the once-vibrant woman struggles to hang on to her sense of self for as long as possible, whilst her friends and family watch on helplessly as pieces of the women they once knew start to disappear.



A truly heart-warming Channel 4 documentary that explores a radical approach to dementia care, whilst giving incredible insight into the mind and imagination of a person living with dementia. Practising the Butterfly Household model of care, Poppy Lodge care home do not correct the confusion that a person living with dementia might have about their surroundings and situation, instead they encourage their delusions, even helping to re-create their imagination. In the first episode we follow 56 year old John as he is taken back to his days in the navy, and 91 year old Les who is taken on a 1940’s themed day trip, complete with vintage car. Polly Lodge believe that this approach to dementia care helps give their residents a sense of well-being, happiness and dignity.