Nostalgia is more than just a sensation. It can also be an effective part of your memory care routine (and memory loss treatment as well).

Anything can bring about nostalgia, but movies and music are especially effective.

Here’s why classic movies are so effective for seniors who are experiencing memory loss.


Movies and Memory Care

Old movies from the 1930s and 1940s serve as time capsules to transport seniors back to the past. Their old memories will be brought back and the emotional connections that go along with them.

Watching these classic movies in groups is also a good idea for socialization. While dementia can make socializing more difficult socialization is still an essential part of memory care. Also talking about classic movies is an easy way to socialize with the other group members.

Classic movies are available in just about every style and medium that you can imagine, so there are many that you can choose from. However, when it comes to memory care films, you’ll want to avoid films that are too sad, complex, violent, or long.

The memories that movies create can involve the actors, story, or even the people who watch the movie with us. That’s why movies for seniors with Alzheimer’s is especially useful; movies can help strengthen the bond between caregivers and their loved ones.

Many of us have at least one favorite movie. What we choose to watch can depend a lot on our mood. We automatically tend to associate a movie or TV show with what was happening in our lives at the time – both the good and the bad. For seniors with Alzheimer’s, these links are not lost and can be brought back with the right movies. No matter what style of movie that senior likes, whether its black and white films, musicals, or westerns, seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s will benefit from watching movies or TV shows regularly.

How to Choose the Right Movie or TV Show

A good movie can improve the mood of a person with Alzheimer’s and make them more willing to engage with others. It can also help to bridge the gap between generations, giving grandchildren and grandparents something to enjoy together. So how do you choose the right movie or TV show for a person with Alzheimer’s? Good kinds of movies include:

  •         Simple plot and with not too many characters
  •         Not too violent and with no displays of serious illness or death
  •         Length of the movie under 2 hours
  •         Fun and optimistic

Entertainment to Watch

Movies are one of the main ways that we all can distract ourselves from our day to day lives. Entertainment such as musicals, dancing, and comedies can serve this purpose without the viewer needing to follow along with a complicated plot. For example, Fred Astaire is an iconic entertainer whose dancing (along with his multiple dance partners) on the TV screen is enjoyed by many. Many great local films such as these are available at the local library in CD format and they are suitable for people with early and middle stages of dementia.

Nature documentaries are another option that’s entertaining to many. These films rely on the magnificence of their subject to create the storytelling narrative. People with dementia usually enjoy these documentaries very much. Some of the most popular documentaries like March of the Penguins and The Planet Earth are readily available at many public libraries. These are excellent nature series, and they are also suitable for those in the early and middle stages of dementia.

There are also other kinds of nature videos to consider watching. These videos also rely on the magnificence of nature to entrance the audience, but there’s one key difference from nature documentaries like Planet Earth. Rather than a narrator, these films keep is more simple with relaxing music and nature sounds, which makes them more suitable for those in the middle and also later stages of dementia.


Recommended Films and TV Shows for Those With Dementia and Alzheimer’s

As you’ll see from this list, the best films and TV shows for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s are musical films and TV shows that include music. Some of the most beloved actors include Shirly Temple, Doris Day, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Elvis Presley, and Gene Kelly.

Here is our list of recommended movies and TV shows – listed by decade so that you can easily find your loved one’s favorite decade.

The 1940s

  •         The Wizard of Oz – 1939 but close enough to the 40s.
  •         It’s a Wonderful Life

The 1950s

  •         Calamity jane
  •         Guys and Dolls
  •         I love Lucy – a TV show that ran from 1951 to 1957.
  •         Singin’ in the Rain

The 1960s

  •         The Sound of Music
  •         West Side Story
  •         The Andry Griffith Show – a TV show ran from 1960 to 1968.

The 1970s

  •         Paint Your Wagon – 1969 but close enough to the 70s.
  •         The Waltons – a TV show that ran mostly in the 70s, from 1971 up to 1981

The 1990s

  •         Grumpy Old Men

Multi Decade TV Shows:

  •         Leave it to Beaver – ran from 1957 to 1963.
  •         Bonanza – a TV show that ran from 1959 to 1973.
  •         The Carol Burnett Show – ran from 1967 to 1978.
  •         The Lawrence Welk Show – ran from 1955 to 1982.

Reality TV shows are also easy to follow for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Shows such as American Idol, Dancing With the Stars and American Pickers don’t have a running plot, making them easy forms of entertainment for everyone. Ambient videos may also interest patients with Alzheimer’s. An example of an ambient film is “A Fishy DVD,” which depicts the colorful and interesting life of fish in an aquarium.

What Movie or TV Show Is Best for Alzheimer’s Patients?

The best thing for your loved one with Alzheimer’s to watch is something that you and them can both enjoy watching together. This shared experience can help you both memories together and it will also provide an easy way to start conversations. For more ways to find their favorite movies and shows from the past, check out networks such as TVLand and Turner Classic Movies.