I was delighted to be a member of the panel at a parliamentary meeting last week discussing the recent Channel 4 programme, Dementiaville. As someone with experience of dementia, having cared for my mother who had Alzheimer’s, the documentary series really struck a chord with me. The programme was also a hot topic of conversation at the Saddleworth Carers meeting I attended recently.
The documentary, in three parts, looks at people with dementia in different care settings – Poppy Lodge (a residential home), in the family home and experiences in a respite day care centre. The programme also looked at different family relationships – spouses, grandchildren, children and siblings. It can be viewed on 4OD here for another three weeks.
It is predicted that 1-in-3 people in the UK will be affected by dementia in the future. With no known cure, this complex disease can destroy recent memories but leave some older ones intact, causing patients to retreat to their past. Led by experts in dementia care, Dementiaville explores progressive approaches to the care of people living with dementia, using reconstruction and archive to re-discover the person behind the illness.
The documentary was certainly very thought provoking and emotional. The panel discussion we held highlighted the shared experiences many of us have of dementia, despite the fact the disease affects each person in a different way.
Later this week, I am sponsoring an event in Parliament on music therapy and dementia. I know from personal experience of caring for my mother just how important music is in unlocking memories and connecting with the past. Music has a unique role in reaching parts of the brain in ways other forms of communication cannot and has been shown to be incredibly beneficial to people with dementia.