The term ‘dementia’ originates from the Latin word ‘demens’, originally meaning ‘madness’ (‘de’  = without, ‘ment’= mind). It is not a specific disorder or disease, but a description for a syndrome (group of symptoms) associated with progressive loss of memory and other cognitive/intellectual functions that are severe enough to interfere with the tasks of daily life, lasting more than 6 months, but not present since birth, and not associated with loss of consciousness.  

The word dementia was first used in its current use by the French psychiatrist Pinel in the early 19thcentury.

Due to the nature of the illness and the fact that dementia is a progressive illness it can be hard for a doctor or family member to truly understand the patient’s experience of living with dementia. These resources should help your understanding.

pictures to prompt thought and discussion about dementia


books to prompt thought and discussion about dementia


photo of book

photo of book

photo of book

photo of book

Iris John Bayley 1998

Still Alice Lisa Genova 2007

Elizabeth is Missing  Emma Healey 2014

Somebody I Used to Know Wendy Mitchell 2018

Also take a look at the website Reading Well 'Books on Prescription Dementia List'

films to prompt thought and discussion about dementia


Still Alice (2014)

Based on Lisa Genova's 2007 book of the same name, the film tells the story of Alice, a professor who at the age of 50 is diagnosed with Alzhiemer's disease.

Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch  (2001)

Based on the book Elegy for Iris by John Bayley, this movie tells the true story of English novelist Iris Murdoch's experience of Alzheimer’s disease and the unconditional love of Bayley, her partner of 40 years.

music to prompt thought and discussion about dementia


Evidence shows that music can help people with dementia to feel and live better. 

The BBC website 'Music Memories' site  launched as part of BBC Music Day allows people to browse more than 1,800 songs, classical works and TV theme tunes from the last 100 years, creating a playlist of personally meaningful music. Those playlists can then be shared - along with some basic information about the user's age, gender and place of birth - allowing carers to identify songs that could help others with a similar background. It is hoped the site will build a database of music that's effective at triggering memories.

poetry to prompt thought and discussion about dementia


The Seven Ages of Man   (final stanza)

As You Like It  William Shakespeare

'Last scene of all,

That ends thus strange eventful history,

Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.'

other creative resources to help manage patients suffering with dementia


picture of memory box

memory box

memory box

Memory boxes, picture books, scrap books and film archive have all been shown to help patients with dementia feel more settled and content in their world.

Resources are often available through local libraries. This Memory Boxes Resource Sheet  has been put together by staff in York Hospital Library. 

Updated 14th December 2018