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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.

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 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:

  • The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)

  • Bonanza (1959-1973)

  • Calamity Jane (1953)

  • Camelot (1967)

  • The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978)

  • Grumpy Old Men (1993)

  • Guys and Dolls (1955)

  • I Love Lucy (1951-1957)

  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

  • The Lawrence Welk Show (1955-1982)

  • Leave it to Beaver (1957-1963)

  • Paint Your Wagon (1969)

  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

  • The Sound of Music (1965)

  • The Waltons (1971-1981)

  • West Side Story (1961)

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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.


For more information about dementia and local services call Memory Matters Utah/Nevada at 435-319-0407. Memory Matters is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization providing services in southern Utah and Mesquite, Nevada.

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