No one said, “Hush,” during the excitement of the paper airplane-flying competition in the Plaza Library. No one put a warning finger to his lips during the spontaneous conversations about favorite childhood foods. And laughing and clapping were encouraged during the two short films and two clips that anchored the Feb 11th Movies and Memory event, an invitation to connect through movies and memories.
Most of the audience that poured into the Truman Forum that Saturday afternoon could not resist the alluring aroma of the freshly popping corn and stopped to get their free fix. They settled into the comfortable seats and sang along as music therapist and performer Rachelle Norman invited audience members to croon old favorites such as Blue Suede Shoes and Tennessee Waltz. Then they enjoyed two Oscar-nominated shorts, Paper Man and The Feast.
Everyone stood and walked through a waltz, guided by a ballroom dance instructor, after a romantic clip from Cinderella’s ballroom scene. After the final rousing cinematic scene, Marian the Librarian from The Music Man, everyone smiled as volunteers handed out cozy heart-shaped boxes of Russell Stover’s chocolates and shining red carnations.
“What a great way to end the week,” one of the caregivers said.
Later, Michelle Niedens, Education Director at the Heart of America Chapter of Alzheimer’s Association, said, “I don’t know whether we have more fun planning these events or participating in the events.” All of us on the planning team agreed. This partnership with the Kansas City Public Library, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Kansas City FilmFest, and The Creativity Connectiong (me and Ron) is filling us all with hope and joy. Our quest to create a dementia and family friendly film series is happening and we are delighted. It’s free of charge, offering families a lovely way to have an uplifiting and interesting experience together.
Don’t miss our next event on April 9th, 1:30 at the Plaza Library. We are thrilled to be part of the Kansas City FilmFest. and we are planning some lovely surprises for our attendees.
For additional information visit: www.kclibrary.org/signature-events/movies-and-memories-annie
For months, our Kansas City Movies and Memory team has been working on creating a memorable dementia-friendly movie experience and film series. Ron and I were so lucky to partner with the Heart of America Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Kansas City Public Library, and the Kansas City FilmFest. For our first offering, we wanted a short movie with a splash of fun and a heart-filled message that would engage multi-generations. We wanted live music and free popcorn. We wanted each person to walk away with a souvenir. And we wanted to attract a diverse audience.
The Red Balloon was a wonderful success. This ageless film, about a boy and his magical balloon, attracted one hundred people, from ages three up through the nineties. Our audience, little kids and big kids both, clustered around the popcorn machine, watching the aromatic kernels blossom. They listened to Parisian songs by a renowned clarinetist and a guitarist. They learned a little about creating a “memory aware” city. And they laughed, smiled, sat on the edge of their seats, and clapped, all avidly involved in the movie. At the end, we walked out holding a huge bouquet of red balloons and each person was excited to take home a lovely reminder of the afternoon.
Here’s what we learned: when you’re taking photos of people holding balloons, you don’t even have to ask them to say, “Cheese.” They’re already smiling.
Here’s the great news.
You can easily have this movie experience at home. It’s perfect for an intergenerational family gathering, a holiday event, or just a cozy evening at home.
Here are a few tips for creating a memorable movie experience:
- Pick a time of day where everyone has good energy. Our event was held at 2:00 in the afternoon.
- Make sure the technology is organized and everyone can see the screen.
- Arrange for comfortable seating and minimal distractions.
- Offer your favorite movie-going indulgences. Freshly popped popcorn is irresistible.
- Talk about what you’re going to see.
- If you want, stop the movie in the middle and talk about what you’ve seen. Ask open-ended questions, such as “Would you have climbed the pole to fetch the balloon?” “Why do you think the boy loved the balloon so much?” “What does this movie make you think of?”
- At the end, talk about the movie: what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what the movie made you think about.
- When the movie experience is complete, hand each person a helium-filled red balloon. Even a red balloon filled with hot air will do!
The Red Balloon is just one idea. Please tell us about movies or TV shows you have enjoyed watching and share your film-watching tips.
Deborah Shouse is the author of Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together and Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.
My hands trembled as I reached out my arms. For three long years I’d been working toward this meeting and yearning for this moment. Now, it was finally here. She was more beautiful than I had imagined, with a pleasing weight, just right for holding, just right for spending long hours with. From a glance, her personality seemed strong and purposeful and yet her warm, colorful exterior told me she would be easy to read. As she gradually opened up to me, I felt her power, her accessibility, her willingness to share ideas and wisdom. She felt great; she looked great; and she was brimming with exciting new ideas. Three long years and finally, she was in my arms. I hugged her tightly. At last I was holding my new book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together
What makes this book unique? It’s the amazing people who contributed to it. During the writing process, I interviewed dozens of innovators across the globe, gathering ideas that engage the creative spirit so you can continue to experience meaningful moments throughout the dementia journey. These luminaries inspired me every step of the way and I am eager to share their ideas with you.
This book is brimming with easy projects using music, art, movies, cooking, gardening, and more. Here are some of the benefits you can look forward to when you do these activities together: Increased energy and socialization, an improved sense of purpose, reduced anxiety, and chances to express yourselves in new and meaningful ways.
Here’s even more good news about the ideas in this book. They’re adaptable for all ages and abilities, and you don’t need to have any special talents. Simply incorporate them into your daily routine and you’ll enrich your time together.
Marc Wortmann, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Disease International, called the book “A ‘must read’ for every care partner because it really helps you to look at things differently!”
If you’re in the Kansas City area, please join us for the book launch on Sunday afternoon, October 9th, at 1:30 for a reception in the Truman Forum at the Plaza Library. The free presentation will begin at 2:00 This lively program, filled with ideas, stories, and songs, features myself and my partner Ron Zoglin, musical luminaries Rod Fleeman and Cynthia Schroer, and guest speaker Michelle Niedens from the Heart of America Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association.
For those of you in the Washington DC area, please join us at the free Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Caregiver’s Conference on Thursday September 29. We’ll be presenting there, along with other experts in the field. Click here to register.
We recently heard from several readers, saying, “This book is going to help so many people. I’m recommending it to my friends and colleagues.”
That’s what this is all about: enriching people’s lives through meaningful engagement.
It’s a challenge, bringing a new book into the world and we welcome your ideas and help in spreading the word about the book and the event.
Here is some advanced praise:
“A thoughtful and positive guide to the very thing I find myself constantly advocating to doctors, caregivers, and family members—social stimulation and creative arts will limit the need for psychiatric medication and improve the quality of life for those with dementia more than anything else.” Doug Wornell, MD, Life Solutions Group for Geriatric and Neurological Psychiatry
“Buy this book, read it, highlight what inspires you. As you make notes and bend pages to personalize this guide, you are creating a family treasure.” Carol Bradley Burdock, Founder of Minding Our Elders
“Deborah Shouse provides a great public service by shining light on the numerous creative activities that can meaningfully engage the minds and spirits of persons living with dementia. From personalized music to storytelling, Shouse makes it easy for caregivers to understand the various options they have to help their loved ones navigate through their everyday lives.” Dan Cohen, MSW Founding Executive Director, MUSIC & MEMORYsm