Books, films and TV programmes about dementia
Reading a book about a health condition, or seeing it portrayed on screen, can often be helpful. It may help you learn more about the effects of that condition, understand it from a different perspective, or feel reassured that you’re not alone in your situation. Even fictional tales, when told well, may strike a chord or change your thinking.
With dementia affecting more and more of us, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of books, TV programmes and films about it. On this page, we’ve listed a small selection of these as a starting point. We’ve based our picks on personal recommendations from Bupa staff, as well as positive reviews and accolades from trusted organisations.
If you have any suggested additions to the list, or feedback on what we’ve included, we would love to hear from you – please email us.
Dementia: Support for Family and Friends
By Dave Pulsford and Rachel Thompson, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
One of a number of guidebooks available about dementia, this book aims to offer practical advice and tips in an accessible way. Those who have praised it include dementia expert Professor Graham Stokes, who helped Bupa to develop its dementia information.
Can I Tell You About Dementia? A Guide for Family, Friends and Carers
By Jude Welton, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
This short illustrated book sees a character called Jack explaining how dementia affects him. The book has been recommended as a useful way to help younger family members understand a relative’s dementia.
And Still The Music Plays: Stories of People With Dementia
By Graham Stokes, Hawker Publications
Bupa Dementia Lead, Fran Vandelli, describes this book as: "A wonderful series of case studies." It gives 22 real stories of people living with dementia, which reveal how unique each person's experience of dementia can be.
Elizabeth is Missing
By Emma Healey, Penguin
This book tells the story of a character called Maud, who begins to search for her missing friend Elizabeth, despite Maud herself struggling with dementia. As well as receiving rave reviews as a suspenseful tale, the book was praised by the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK for dealing sensitively and realistically with the subject of dementia.
The Memory Book
By Rowan Coleman, Ebury Press
Dementia can affect family relationships in a number of ways. This book tells a story about the impact of early-onset Alzheimer’s on one family, and how they ultimately come together despite the challenges they face.
More book ideas
Reading well books on prescription for dementia is a list supported by several big dementia charities and most libraries in England. It suggests books that you may find helpful if you have dementia, are caring for someone with dementia, or would like to find out more about the condition.
Away from her (2006)
Based on a story by celebrated writer Alice Munro, this Canadian film is about the relationship of a couple affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Once Fiona is diagnosed, she insists that her husband Grant takes her to a nursing home. The film explores the struggles that the couple face in coming to terms with this situation, and their efforts to maintain their relationship in the face of several challenges.
Still Alice (2014)
This drama, based on a book of the same name, earned Julianne Moore an Oscar for her portrayal of a woman living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film follows her character, a linguistics professor called Alice, as she tries to cope with the impact of the dementia on her work and her family life. It has been praised by people living with early-onset dementia for realistically showing a range of symptoms. The story is very moving, but also naturally quite sad, so some viewers may find it upsetting to watch.
A separation (2011 – Farsi with subtitles)
Another Oscar-winning film, this time for Best Foreign Picture. It shows a couple living in Iran who separate, and follows the events that ensue in their family. While the film touches on a number of themes and isn’t specifically about dementia, one of the main characters has Alzheimer’s disease. The film has been praised for accurately depicting the condition and the frustration that dementia carers can face.
Dementia TV programmes
Dementiaville, Channel 4
A three-part documentary exploring a particular approach to dementia care. Staff at the care home featured don't correct the misconceptions of residents with dementia, but try wherever possible to join in with them and preserve their sense of wellbeing. At the time of writing, the entire series is available for free on the All4 Player.
Untangling Alzheimer’s, Netflix
A documentary investigating the science behind Alzheimer’s, as told by David Suzuki, a scientist with a family history of the condition. When we most recently checked, the documentary was available in the UK on the streaming service Netflix (subscription required).
Louis Theroux – Extreme Love: Dementia, BBC/Netflix
Documentary-maker Louis Theroux travels to the United States, where he meets people with dementia who are living in residential care. The programme particularly focuses on the loved ones of those in care, and their devotion. The documentary was available on Netflix (subscription required) when we last checked, and clips were available on the BBC website.
Tell us what you think
Have you read or watched any of the books, films or TV programmes listed above? Or do you have a suggested addition? We would love to hear from you by email.