21 Jul 2022
by Bruce Elliott

Memory Lane Games: Using place to trigger positive memories for those living with dementia

Guest blog by Bruce Elliott, CEO at Memory Lane Games Limited


Hi, where are you from?

Asking where someone is from is such a common opening question for a stranger and universal small talk.

Where we live and where we come from is fundamental to most people’s sense of self, identity and history and perhaps that’s why it’s a powerful topic in reminiscence therapy.

Reminiscence therapy involves simple techniques to help those with memory loss or dementia to recall their memories. This can boost self-esteem and provide a sense of fulfilment, improve mood and reduce agitation, all of which are valuable in the care of those living with a condition which doesn’t have any positive outcomes. It’s where the founders of Memory Lane Games started when they decided to make games for their elderly Mums to enjoy using their favourite old photographs.

After quickly realising they were onto something, the Memory Lane Games app now delivers free, professionally curated reminiscence and speech and language activity games across a range of topics such as music, film, food, hobbies and pets. All our games are designed to be frustration free and encourage communication and socialisation, not to test. With 80,000 downloads and over 11,000 hours of monthly gameplay across 100 countries, we really understand the value and power of place!

Comfort in the familiar

Dementia affects the memory in strange ways but frequently results in people re-living the distant past, perhaps returning to a stage in childhood or reverting to a first language that they haven't used in many years. Place clearly has a very important part to play in this and Memory Lane Games can provide tremendous comfort to the user through play of hyper-localised games on over 150 British cities, towns and villages and hundreds of local-themed games for Ireland, Germany, the Philippines, India, the US, Canada, Australia, Greece, Zambia, Uganda and more.  All games feature lovely familiar images from decades past and present.

Imagery is really important, and we can localise for any country within a month providing we can obtain copyright free pictures. Our questions are not just about tourist sites, also covering the likes of culture, food and festivals, and because these games are often made by someone with intimate knowledge of the area, the questions are specific to the history of that place.

Simple but powerful

Beneath its simplicity, the Memory Lane Games app is a powerful tool. Carers, families and friends are able to enjoy interactions generated by playing the games with those in their care… it becomes a tool to trigger conversation and provides the opportunity to reverse roles. Perhaps the teacher becomes the student for a while. Families and carers can even craft personalised quizzes using old family photos. Creating questions such as “Mum where did you go on your first holiday?" or “Where did you get married?” makes for unique and personal experiences the value of which cannot be underestimated.

Purposeful business

Today, in addition to our popular free app (available in the usual app stores) we serve international care home groups with a SaaS platform enabling alerts based on their residents' game play: highlighting changes in 7 clinical data sets, all of which are game play related and have been established in our RCT Clinical Trial (underway). This data can be used to alert early-interventions needed to address potential health issues like mini-strokes or urinary tract infections.

The benefits to users and care homes are immediately evident. Improved resident and staff wellbeing, improved quality of family visits and a differentiated care home business.

Societal impact

Many of our games are made by those who have endured the pain of watching a family member or friend diminish through dementia and because there are so many people that want to help, we are able to offer a corporate ESG programme. This enables their staff to get involved in creating their own quiz style games on topics they are familiar with and in return for an auditable report which will show them how many minutes of impact their game had on people living with dementia.

If you would like to create a Memory Lane Game for your place or to find out more about us please get in touch with [email protected] or download the free app from the usual app stores.

Check out our new podcast and ICS report 

The techUK podcast: Innovation in place-based care

In this episode we explore the concept of ‘place’ in care, the principles behind it, the impact of Covid-19 on care delivery, prospects for innovation following the introduction of Integrated Care Systems, examples of industry best practice, and where listeners can go to learn more about ‘place’ and innovation in care.

We were joined by Helena Zaum (Social Care Lead at Microsoft and Chair of techUK’s Social Care Working Group), Scott Cain (Associate at the Connected Places Catapult) and Hannah Groombridge (Healthcare Engagement Manager at Person Centred Software).

This discussion forms part of techUK’s Digital Place Week 2022 activity and features on our recently-launched Social Care Innovation Hub.

ICS Report.jpg

Read techUK's latest flagship report, released on Thursday's 'Health and Wellbeing' day:

Right from the start: What should Integrated Care Systems prioritise to make digital, data and technology work for them and their populations?





Bruce Elliott

CEO, Memory Lane Games Limited