Best Movies and TV Shows for Alzheimer’s Patients

Movies make for great memories. The story, the actors or even the person who watched with us, any of these can be a reason why a particular movie sticks in our memory. When seniors with Alzheimer’s watch a favorite movie or television show, it can stir positive memories and inspire good feelings about the caregivers and loved ones in their lives.

Best Movies & TV Shows for Alzheimer's Patients

Why Movies Are Good for Alzheimer’s

Most of us have a favorite movie or two. What we want to watch can depend on our mood. Understandably, we often associate a film or TV show with the good (or bad) times in our lives.

For people with Alzheimer’s, those links between certain movies and memories are not necessarily lost. In fact, movies can help bring back some of the best memories and even spark conversation. Whether they like black and white films, westerns, musicals or another genre, seniors with Alzheimer’s can benefit from watching movies and TV shows as a regular activity.

Choosing the Right Movie or TV Show

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

How do you choose the right movie or TV show for a loved one with Alzheimer’s? Generally, it is a good idea to find movies that are:

  • Fun and upbeat
  • Shorter in length (under two hours)
  • Not violent and do not portray serious illness or death
  • Simpler in terms of plot and number of characters

Recommended Viewing for Alzheimer’s Patients

A Place for Mom asked our Facebook fans what movies and television shows their loved ones with Alzheimer’s enjoy. By far, musicals (and any TV shows with music) received the most recommendations. Some favorite actors include Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Elvis Presley and Humphrey Bogart.

Here are the top suggestions on films and TV shows for seniors with Alzheimer’s:

In addition, reality TV shows, like American Idol, American Pickers and Dancing With the Stars were recommended because they are easy to follow, and you do not have to keep up with a running plot. Some people indicate that ambient videos intrigue and calm Alzheimer’s patients. One example, A Fishy DVD, provides the fascinating, colorful and ever-changing view of life in an aquarium.

Finding the Right Movie or TV Show for Someone With Alzheimer’s

If you have trouble finding copies of your loved one’s favorite movies or TV shows, networks like TVLand and Turner Classic Movies offer popular programs and films from past eras. Remember to watch with your senior whenever you can. Sharing the experience can help build new memories, and it will definitely give you something to talk about with your loved one.

What movies or TV shows does the senior in your life enjoy? Please share your insights below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Emily

    My mom loves I love Lucy , she can watch the same shows over and over, and she laughs and laughs like she’s seeing it for the first time! It never gets old. Also any animal movies where the animals do the talking, she finds a riot, we are lucky, I think she justs like to laugh!

  • Sue

    America’s Funniest Home Videos is great and so is The Golden Girls. Mom also used to watch Everybody Loves Raymond.

  • Virginia Gallegos

    For Spanish language individuals. .. Sabado Gigante with Don Francisco on Saturday evening on Univision. 3 hour variety show with music abd comedy.

  • MaryGeake

    Get America’s Funniest Video & it will always make a person laugh. It can be 30 minutes or 1 hour, but it’s fun to see them laugh or just smile!

  • Clarisse1958

    I live near a retired wire walker, we watched utubes’ “best circus video ever”,53 minutes. She engaged and enjoyed it on her own. Then we watched together. she rated the acts, and difficulty of the tricks, ‘that ones’ easy all flash no skill,. etc. We both agreed that male lions are lazy. Now we need to find something in Swedish.
    Yesterday there was an 8 hr tornado watch. We were in lockdon and it was dreary outside. One resident rolled himself across the empty dining room to listen to a London production of wizard of oz, no video just audio. Yeah Harold Arlen songs and You Tube.

  • Marie

    Pink Panther with Steve Martin

  • Joyce

    Mom likes the Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke, Mr. Ed, Heartland.

  • SassyCat

    This is so interesting to see, as my supervisor keeps getting on us for putting the voice and american idol on for the residents. I need to show this to her.

  • dzhaughn .

    Celtic Woman was a big hit. Suppose I should try River Dance but what about my feelings?

    With gratitude for the suggestions, I’m off to order videos of the Lerner and Lowe musicals right now. (But West Side Story went poorly; forget about it.)

    Animal Planet’s Too Cute can be good, as long as Mom doesn’t think the puppies are lost outside in the cold. Animal Planet overall has proven too violent much too often. America’s Funniest Home Videos also seems too violent, degrading, and has way too much context switching. (Of course, everyone is different.)

    Andy Griffiths works well. We all loved Carol Burnette in the past, but there is a little too much shrieking; perhaps Ed Sullivan.

    If the fish tank videos work, try watching golf on TV.

  • Sandi Wysz

    Well I have a different story to tell..when mom watches her western movies she acts like the tough gun slinging cowboys that she watches and
    is very rude to me and everyone else I try to get her to watch something else but she just yells and says “Its my house and I’ll watch what I want!”
    No one in the family can stand being around her
    She is 84 and still works as a female barber but is now having difficulty paying her bills. I used to help her with that but I don’t even want to anymore because she acts like a tough rude cowboy with mild Alzheimer’s!!!

    • Shiva X

      Alzheimers symptoms make her agressive.
      Risperidone helps A LOT with that..

    • Leanne

      I’m sure you’re not laughing but oh that sure made me laugh, thanks. I’ll have to remember that I usually don’t have to deal with a tough rude cowboy, at least. Well not the cowboy part.

  • Jennifer Carr

    Just for laughs, Babies (movie)

  • Diane

    My mom loves Heartland. She’s watched the entire series (seven seasons) twice already in the two weeks since she’s moved in with me!

  • Vicky

    Mom loves The Golden Girls, but she seems to be confused about the channels now that she has Dementia. She is in a nursing home for about 2 weeks and complains and cries to come home, but I’m getting old myself and can’t care for her anymore. She was constantly falling and could no longer make her own decisions. She is going through the blaming stage right now and says it’s all my fault that she’s in a nursing home. I explained to her that she couldn’t get around anymore or could barely stand, yet alone walk to the bathroom without falling. She insists she gets around fine which of course is not the truth. She’s also delusional at times. It’s sad to see your own mother change before your very eyes but I feel better knowing she’s in a safer place where she can’t harm herself. She told me the other day that she might as well die and that her life is ruined. She may eventually acclimate but there is the possibility that she’ll never accept her new home. I just take each day at a time and let her vent whenever I visit. Sometimes she’ll just stare into space with a disgusted look on her face. Not much I can do except talk about things that I feel are uplifting to her which can be helpful. Mom isn’t much for activities either, although I think that would be of benefit to her. She can be so stubborn. I’m going to bring in a somewhat easy picture puzzle for her to put together. Maybe that will cheer her up, that is if she is at all interested.

    • Leanne

      Hi Vicky, not sure if you’ll see this but I just wanted to say I hope things are looking up for both your mom and for you, it must be so upsetting. As far as ideas, what about a radio in her room or something, music? Good luck.

      • Vicky

        Hi Leanne. Sad to say but my mother had a stroke in early September and passed away at the end of the month. It was really hard on me. I was close to my mom and did everything for her over the past 20 years. I miss her phone calls. She was my best friend. Right before she had the stroke, she told me she understood why I had to do what I needed to do. It’s as if she had an awakening and she was her old self again. The day before she passed, I sensed she was near death. At times she was gasping for air and a few times she stopped breathing, then resumed again. I was sobbing at that point and said to her, “Oh mom, I wish there was something I could do to make you well again.” She picked up her arm and dropped it on top of my hand as if to tell me it’s okay, that she knew she was ready to go. After she passed, it took me weeks before I had any appetite or could stop bouts of crying. It’s part of the grieving and healing process. I didn’t know at that point if I was losing my mind but my family said it’s normal but that I also may need some professional help too. I didn’t and I’m much better now. I still miss her, but realize that I was fortunate to have had my mother so long. Thank you for your concern and advice just the same.

  • Betsy Day

    The Secret Life of Pets movie and Fraisier tv

  • greg KAYE

    I’ve used a computer programme (‘clipgrab’) to record dance performaces from ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (the UK’s version of Dancing with the Stars. It was nice first watching the clips on youtube with Mum to get her to choose which to save. There are a lot of old songs and presented in a very stimulating way. I’m also going to look at recording films like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill as well as series like Downton Abbey and Larkrise to Candleford. Its all good feel good stuff. And I’ll also get back to other searches on feel good movies/TV.

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