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Classic Movies for the Senior Mind

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Senior man and senior woman laughing at a movie and eating popcorn.

Everyone loves a good movie night, no matter our age. Settling in at home curled up on the couch with a big bowl of buttered popcorn, a bag of your favorite sweets and a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate has always sounded like a fantastic idea when spending a night indoors. The benefits of motion pictures offer more than just an entertaining film to cure a bout of boredom, but can also be viewed as a form of therapy. Movies can provide seniors with many benefits that help promote cognitive well-being in the aging adults brain.

Triggers Emotional Processes

Film has been proven to awaken a wide range of emotions in everyone. The way “The Notebook” pulled at the heart-strings of millions of men and women globally or how watching “Top Gun” gets your heart racing at speeds you could never expect.

For seniors, film is a great way to motivate emotional responses, improve mood, and inspire more positive thoughts. It can also be used as an escape tool for older adults that have been dealing with emotionally stressful life experiences, lack of mobility or mundane living situations. Viewing an uplifting or comedic movie can help ease anxiety and combat depression in older adults.

Helps Alleviate Mental Health Challenges

Cinema therapy is used knowingly or unknowingly by many people globally. Cinema therapy is a form of expressive therapy similar to art, music or dance therapy which has been identified and used as a self-help tool. It was first spoken about by Gary Solomon in his book titled: “The Motion Picture Prescription”.

Unfortunately, seniors are not protected from developing mental health problems. As a matter of fact, 1 in 4 adults over the age of 55 are currently suffering from some sort of mental health disorder. Movies have been noted to help seniors leave a negative state of mind through watching a comedy, viewing a movie similar to their current life situations which helps them learn new coping mechanisms, or engaging in enjoyable movies that distract from anxious thoughts.

Fosters Social Discussions

Movies can help cultivate new conversational topics. Enjoying a good movie and discussing it afterwards with a friend or family member can cultivate great conversation. For example, watching a film that was once a beloved movie by the whole family can help sprout conversations about fond memories of the past, or watching a newly released box office movie can spark lively discussions afterward.

Awakens Past Memories

Seniors with dementia can easily benefit from engaging with movies from their era. It can help loved ones with dementia awaken past memories of life experiences, loved ones or their childhood. It is very important for older adults with dementia to keep their brain active which is one of the many benefits of movie watching.

Movies to indulge in...

Casablanca (1943) available on HBO MAX, Amazon Prime and YouTube.

The Sound of Music (1965) available on Disney+, Apple TV, Amazon Prime and YouTube.

Grease (1978) available on Paramount+ and Apple TV.

Gone with the Wind (1939) available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime and YouTube.

Dances with Wolves (1990) available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime and YouTube.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime and YouTube.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Disney+ and Youtube.

The Music Man (1962) available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and YouTube

The King and I (1956) available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and YouTube

So why don’t you take a break from reality this evening and settle down with your favorite movie. It can be beneficial for your mental health and can cultivate a nice conversation with family and friends in the morning.


Explore more about senior lifestyle here or get inspired with new recipes here!


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