Ten Tenets for Choosing Movies to Boost Memories and Moods

Cinema can fill in the empty spaces of your life and your loneliness .    Pedro Almodovar                                                              


Invite Connections Through Watching Films Together

Most of us who visit care facilities have witnessed the dreaded “people slumped over in front of the television” syndrome. Of course, you don’t want to park your beloved person in front of a screen. But watching an appropriate movie together can be a meaningful experience.

Movies can stir up positive memories and invite conversations, such as discussing a favorite actor, a memorable scene, the old movie theater just a streetcar ride from home, or a special date at the movies.

According to Alzheimer’s.net, a good movie experience can leave a person with Alzheimer’s in a better mood and more engaged with others. A film can also help bridge generations, giving grandparents, children, and grandchildren something to share.

When selecting a movie for viewing, chose a film that is:

  • Fun and uplifting
  • Easy to understand in terms of plot and characters
  • Under two hours
  • Void of violence, illness and death
  • Appealing to the person who has Alzheimer’s

Choose a comfortable setting with minimal distractions so you can talk during the film, discussing any memories, ideas or questions that the film inspires.

Familiar musicals, such as The Wizard of Oz, Camelot, or Guys and Dolls, often resonate with people who have Alzheimer’s. Other favorite films might include  It’s A Wonderful Life and Singin’ In the Rain.

Comfort and Console Yourself with Cinema

Movies can also recharge your spirit, during times when you need a little relaxation and entertainment but you’re too tired to leave the house. My friend Karen Rowinsky, LSCSW, (http://www.overlandparkcounseling.com/) wrote about cinematherapy in a recent blog. She’s an expert on self-care and I wanted to share her suggestions with you.

Here are Karen’s ideas:

Need a laugh, a cathartic crying session, or some excitement in your life? Instead of selecting your next movie by analyzing Rotten Tomatoes, let your choice reflect the mood you desire.

Here are some ideas that may fit the bill:

  • Need to getaway from it all? Watch a film from another country.
  • Haven’t laughed in a while? Pick an actor or genre that always gets you going.
  • Want to release tension? Select a thriller with lots of suspense that will leave you spent.
  • Feeling wrapped up in your problems? Find a biographical movie with an inspiring story.
  • Desire some mental stimulation? Documentaries or films on a topic you know nothing about can help.

Most of us get stuck in a rut when it comes to movies. Services like Netflix divide their movies into genres and sub-genres. You can look for comedies but then narrow your choices down to dark comedies, slapstick, spoofs, romantic comedies, etc. Trade lists of favorite movies with friends. Better yet, start a film festival with your friends or family, using a theme, a decade, or genre to make your choices.

Self-care can be as easy as a DVD and some popcorn.



Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.