FROM The Notebook to Still Alice, Hollywood
has periodically explored the subject of dementia on screen. Now a
Christian charity is teaming up with a professor of ageing to
research whether films could help to prevent the development of
The Damaris charity's Silver Screen initiative - a collaboration
with Age Action Alliance, Rotary, and the University of Southampton
- means that older people will be taken to film screenings,
followed by quizzes and discussion.
A gala screening last month raised enough money for five
local-community organisations to take 200 older people to the
The long-term aim is to raise enough money to reach what the
charity says are one million older people in the UK "who always, or
often, feel lonely; and the four million who consider the TV as
their main form of company".
Damaris hopes that the trips will inform research into whether
non-drug treatments, including intellectual stimulation and social
engagement, can help to slow the cognitive decline of people who
are in the early stages of dementia. It is working alongside Dr
Roxana Carare, Associate Professor in Cerebrovascular Ageing at the
University of Southampton, to explore this.
The research communications manager at the Alzheimer's Society,
Dr Clare Walton, welcomed the initiative. "Research suggests older
people who stay socially connected, and regularly take part in
activities which stimulate the brain are at a lower risk of
developing dementia," she said last week.
"Silver Screen sounds like a great way for people to do both of
these, while also having fun. With the numbers of people with
dementia set to rise to over one million by 2021, and currently no
drugs that can stop its progression, interventions like this should
be fully explored as a viable way for older people to keep their
brains healthy for longer. Keeping loneliness and social isolation
at bay can also have a positive impact on general quality of life
for older people."
Films shown as part of the project would be "ones that have a
particular resonance with older people", Emily Smart, of Damaris,
said on Tuesday. "In some cases, that will be older films which
many older people will have enjoyed when they were young, such as
The Sound of Music.
"In other cases, it will be new releases which are particularly
appropriate for older people. We showed The Second Best Exotic
Marigold Hotel in a recent pilot of the scheme."