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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Watching movies can reduce isolation, foster friendships, stimulate empathy, and provide a mental ‘time out’. It is also a wonderful reminiscing opportunity!

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?

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Comments   Post a Comment

Magenta 20th Oct 2022 N/A
Add BEING THERE to this list of movies...very charming indeed
Susan 4th Aug 2021 Activity Director
Hi Brenda
This is great
You are very lucky to have a movie theater
Thank you for sharing
Brenda 3rd Aug 2021 Community Life Assistant
We are fortunate to have a theater at our facility and schedule a Wednesday movie night and resident attendance has been very good. A few gentlemen residents enjoy western movies, so a few weeks ago we showed "Way out West" a Laurel & Hardy movie, had a popcorn/beverage intermission, and then watched "Stan & Ollie"a 2018 movie. The residents enjoyed, and every week look forward to 6:00 movie night.
Julie watson 14th May 2021
Can someone tell me what they watched the film on was it a large TV, I would love to get a big white screen to show it on but not sure how this would work, Thank you
Susan 15th May 2021 Activity Director
Hi Julie
I think most places have a large screen TV that they use
A lot of places have the TV affixed to the wall
Kim 8th Oct 2020 Diversional Therapist
Hi, you can add Mamma Mia (2008). My residents loved this movie. It's a comedy musical lovestory. They were all looked happy after they've watched it.
Talita 11th Oct 2020
Oh yes that's a great movie, thank you Kim! We have that one in our 100 Movies for the Elderly to enjoy article https://www.goldencarers.com/100-movie-recommendations-for-seniors/3902/
Colby 22nd Jun 2019 Activity Aid
Is Pixar movies ok for skilled residents? Like finding memo, monsters inc, etc.
Solange 25th Jun 2019 Diversional Therapist
Hi Colby, Pixar movies have become all-time classics enjoyed by children and adults. Despite being made for children they have captured the hearts of multiple generations with their focus on parenting, relationships, kindness, loyalty, and bravery. Pixar movies are very appropriate for elderly people.
Meg 18th Jan 2019 Life Enrichment Director
I just recently showed my folks in Memory Care, "Wild Hogs" I had for gotten how much language there was and the nude scene, but they thought it was hilarious!
Noam Herling 10th Nov 2017
regarding clients from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds,
in the old age home where I work there are clients not speaking the same languages at all.
we started a movie night once a month, and we're showing movies such as Mister Bean, Charley Chaplin, where language isn't an issue :)
if you have more ideas I'd love to here :)
Noam, from Israel.
Talita 13th Nov 2017
That's a great tip, thank you Noam!
Solange 13th Nov 2017 Diversional Therapist
Hi Noam, thank you for sharing, great idea for a multi-cultural care facility. You may add to your repertoire Buster Keaton, Marx’s brothers and Laurel and Hardy. There are some excellent YouTube shorts movies available. All the best!
Solange 10th Jan 2017 Diversional Therapist
Hi, Suff, yes, with have several activities, games, ideas, and tips and hints specifically for clients coming from cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Take a look at the links below and search for specific countries activities like, Polish, Italian, Scottish, Greek, and others. Best wishes.

Suff 10th Jan 2017
How would you cater for CALD clients?
Lisa 10th Sep 2016 Carer & Activities
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 Diversional Therapist
Thank you Josephine and Susan for adding these movies to the list. It is really appreciated. Best wishes!
Josephine 8th Dec 2015 Lifestyle Manager
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 Freelance Activity Co-ordinator
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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