Planning a Movie Night for the Elderly

25th December

Planning a Movie Night for the Elderly

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If you don’t already run a regular ‘Movie Night’ at your facility, try it out! All you need is a large screen, some good speakers, and of course popcorn and ice cream to add to the cinematic experience!
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Movies affect people in ways that few other art forms can.
They provoke and transform people more than they care to admit.

Movies are especially relevant in retirement communities and other long-term care facilities. Watching movies can reduce isolation, foster friendships, stimulate empathy, and provide a mental ‘time out’.

Historically, Hollywood has often portrayed elders as forgetful, tired, and grumpy. Recently however, things have changed; the baby boomer generation may have had something to do with it… the grey dollar is just as valuable after all!

Instead of stereotyping seniors, they are now increasingly represented as fun-loving, wise, adventurous, and dynamic people. There are also several recent films about health and age related illnesses such as depression and dementia which have been treated with compassion and respect.

Getting Started: What you need

If you don’t already run a regular ‘Movie Night’ at your facility, try it out! All you need is a large screen, some good speakers, and of course popcorn and ice cream to add to the cinematic experience!

When to Screen Movies

Screen movies on Saturday mornings or Friday nights before meals to provide conversation and discussion at the table.

Movie feedback & debriefing

Offer support if a client expresses displeasure regarding a movie and follow up with a debriefing the next day. Sometimes the client has hidden concerns in his displeasure, and talking through the experience with sympathetic staff may relieve the angst.

Resident feedback should be shared with senior staff and documented.

Classic Movies on Ageing and Elders

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont – After she feels abandoned by her family in a retirement facility, an elderly lady strikes up a friendship with a young man. (2005 – Joan Plowright – Rupert Friend)
Strangers in Good Company – Eight female seniors take a trip to the countryside. When their transport breaks down they spend time waiting for rescue in an isolated log cabin. They proceed to reminisce about their lives. It is a gem of a movie. (1990 - Mary Meigs, Cissy Meddings)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – A comedy-drama about a group of British retirees holidaying in India. (2012 - Judy Dench and Maggie Smith)
Cocoon – Aliens return to Earth on a secret mission and give a group of senior citizens the opportunity to recapture their youth. (1985 –Don Amech – Wilford Brimley)
The Straight Story – A simple classic film about siblings in their senior years. An elderly man visits his long estranged brother. (1999 - Richard Farnsworth)
The Bucket List – Two terminally ill men escape from hospital with a list of things to do before dying. (2007 - Jack Nicholson – Morgan Freeman)
Away from Her – Depicts the journey of a woman living with Alzheimer’s Disease and how it affects her and her family. (2006 – Julie Christie)
Central Station – A lonely and retired teacher befriends a child and helps him search for his father. (1998 – Fernanda Montenegro)
Driving Miss Daisy – When a wealthy, elderly woman is no longer allowed to drive she hires an African-American to be her driver. It is an inspiring story about friendship. (1989 - Jessica Tandy – Morgan Freeman)
Trip to Bountiful – Set in the 1940’s in Houston, Texas. An elderly lady forced to live with her bossy son and daughter-in-law wants to see her hometown one last time. When her son prohibits her from going she escapes from the family’s clutches and sets off on her own. (1985 - Geraldine Page)
Up – Pixar animated movie about a 78-year-old balloon salesman. (2009 – Pete Docter – Ed Asner)
Harold and Maude – Young, rich, and obsessed with suicide, a 20 year old man meets an elderly lady at a funeral and falls in love with her! Not a movie for everyone, occasionally overstepping boundaries but without a doubt a classic dark comedy. It may be a good idea to disclose some of the story before presenting it to clients. (1971 – Ruth Gordon – Bud Cort)
Still Alice – Early onset Alzheimer’s Disease is the subject of this amazing movie. (2014 – Julianne Moore)


We'd love to hear your feedback!
What movies do your residents love to watch?


Lisa 10th Sep 2016
we started movie night popcorn and a glass of tiddly (sherry) if they fancy has been great each week someone picks a film and as a home we support there choice and all gather together to watch must say the week it was my fair lady and they were all singing along great night
Talita 12th Sep 2016
How lovely Lisa! What a good idea to get someone to pick each week. Love the addition of the glass of sherry too!
Solange 10th Dec 2015
Thank you Josephine and Susan for adding these movies to the list. It is really appreciated. Best wishes!
Josephine 8th Dec 2015
Thanks for some of these suggestions. We have held a couple of movie nights and they have been incredibly popular with our guys and family members. We incorporate a group to make rounds of sandwiches and muffins as we pause half way (for toileting etc) - and have these for supper.

We did a fundraiser for a charity and put on Calendar Girls - this went down really well ! Another one is The 100 Foot Journey. I have been told that the Australian film Oddball will be a good one - true story of a Dog protecting Penguins.

I have been asked by our residents to hold movie nights more often so that is in our plans for 2016. Hence some of the suggestions above will definitely come in quite handy !! Thanks

Susan 8th Dec 2015
A film that we found very funny was this one.

Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War is a British comedy-drama film from 2002, directed by Ian Sharp and starring Pauline Collins, John Alderton and Peter Capaldi. It is based on a 1993 novel with the same name by Vernon Coleman.

It is the story about a woman, Thelma Caldicot, who is coerced by her manipulative son Derek and daughter-in-law to move into a run-down nursing home, owned by Derek's employer, after the death of her bullying husband. Derek also gets her to sign over her house to him. However, she doesn't like it at the nursing home and shows her frustration. After having been medicated by the staff to stay calm, she finally incites her fellow inmates to revolt.


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