Dementia: Who's innovating?

As we are living longer, often with multiple long-term conditions, there is a need now more than ever for innovations to help people live out these extra years in the best way possible.

Part of our work in the Nesta Health Lab involves collating some of the most exciting things happening in the world of ageing on our Living Map of Innovators. There are a few ways you can use the map searching either by development stage, outcome or simply by a specific condition or models. This blog will look at some of the innovations we have that are having an impact in dementia.

Statistics published by the Alzheimer's Society state that in 2015 there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK rising to 1 million people by 2025. With so many different types of dementia everyone will experience the condition in different ways. Dementia is a progressive condition, which means that symptoms, which include problems with language, memory, understanding and thinking speed, will get gradually worse over time. With no known cure it’s important that we find a way to help and support people living with dementia to have the best quality of life possible.

There is lots of great work being done to support people with dementia and their carers at a local and national level, through a variety of activities from community groups and technology to animal interaction and specialised holidays. I’ve picked out a few, but please check out our Living Map of Innovators for many more examples.

  • Dementia Cafes also known as memory cafes are becoming an increasingly popular way for people with dementia to socialise in a safe environment. The cafes offer a range of activities as well as practical information and support for patients and carers. is an independent website which has been developed to enable anyone to search for their local cafe.
  • Ladder to the Moon transforms care homes into a Hollywood film studio for the day, allowing older people and their carers to discuss issues and challenges in a completely different way. It helps to improve the quality of life for residents in residential care and those who work there.
  • To Know Me books are designed to showcase the lives, needs and preferences of people living with dementia and other conditions which affect a person’s ability to express themselves clearly. Through the books carers and medical professionals can quickly and simply learn more about the social, emotional and practical needs of the people in their care.
  • See What I Mean is an app which translates words into pictures, as for people living with dementia words can become increasingly hard to understand, making communication and social interaction difficult. This translation means that for most people living with dementia an image communicates an idea or emotion more clearly than a word.
  • Dementia Dogs are assistance dogs that help people with dementia lead more fulfilled, independent and stress-free lives. The dog can help people with dementia maintain their waking, sleeping and eating routine, remind them to take medication, improve confidence, keep them active and engaged with their local community, as well as providing a constant companion who will reassure them when facing new and unfamiliar situations.
  • Dementia Adventure (pictured above) offers short breaks and adventure holidays for people living with dementia. They offer everyone the opportunity to connect with nature and meet others in the local community. The enterprise also works alongside care providers, local authorities and health services to help them support people living with dementia to get out into nature as much as possible.

We hope that our living map will continue to grow and that it is used as a resource for health and social care professionals as well as patients and their carers to improve the wellbeing of our ageing population.

If you know of any great innovations in ageing please add an example via our website or contact the Nesta Health Lab team via email [email protected]


Hollie Brennan

Hollie Brennan

Hollie Brennan

Programme Coordinator, Health Lab

Hollie joined Nesta in May 2014 as the Programme Coordinator for Health Lab.

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