Case study: Dementia project helps great grandfather's memory
George Stewart of Woodley, Reading took part in a research trial into viewing historical events on a touchscreen computer to improve memory after being diagnosed with dementia.
The NIHR-supported study is looking at reminding patients of past memories to help promote conversation with friends and family.
Researchers believe that people who keep their minds active may be able to slow the effects of dementia and prolong independent living.
Mr Stewart said: “The study took me way back – 20, 30, 40 years. I was constantly talking about it, telling people about the world I lived in.
“It brought back childhood memories of what I’d experienced and seen on TV, all that sort of stuff.”
The software allows users to select topics such as sport or entertainment and access videos, photographs and music.
Examples include Queen’s 1977 single ‘We Are the Champions’ and clips from movies such as 1955’s The Love Match and 1964’s Mr. Scrooge.
Mr Stewart, who worked in construction, said: “When I was diagnosed, I thought I was on the way out. I thought it was a real downer. It left me with no hope and I thought it was going to take over my whole life.
“I have something wrong with me, and I think anybody with anything wrong should try to help people in the future.
“I realise you can’t change this condition, but you can let people know what it does to you. Research is the only way we’re going to make any sort of progress.”
Partner Sharon Field said: “He kept himself very busy at home after retirement, he used to do all of the housework but with the dementia he’s found it hard because he couldn’t do it anymore and it’s got him very down.
“That study opened up lots of ideas of things we can do together and enjoy. By taking part in research, not only are you helping others, but you can find information that might help you. I wouldn’t have thought to do that, but his memory was a lot better afterwards.
“I’ve loaded pictures up on to my laptop to do the same of sort of thing: such as the cars and dogs he’s had, and pictures of Australia as he was there when he was younger.”