Movies aren't just good for entertainment. They can be nostalgic, inspiring, or motivational. For seniors, a good movie can make the day better or even help relive some precious memories. In fact, studies have found that watching movies has proven psychological benefits.
These are some examples of movies from different time periods and genres that you and your elderly loved one might enjoy.
Best Comedies for Seniors
It's cliche to say that laughter is the best medicine, but the truth is that it really can improve seniors' lives medically and emotionally. It reduces blood pressure, helps fight depression, and even boosts the immune system.
- Little Miss Sunshine (2006): There are many laughs to be had in this movie about a family's wild road trip to get to a beauty pageant, but the powerful bond between a grandfather and granddaughter is especially poignant for seniors.
- Driving Miss Daisy (1989): This Oscar-nominated comedy follows the unlikely friendship between an elderly Jewish woman and her African American chauffeur, chronicling the growth of their relationship over the years.
- The Savages (2008): While it focuses on darker humor, this film, about a brother and sister reuniting to cope with their father's deteriorating health as they place him in a nursing home, is equal parts funny and touching.
Best Romantic Movies for Seniors
Over the past two decades, there has been a growing trend in developing romantic comedies that are not only made for senior audiences but also about senior characters. It's a perfect opportunity for elderly people to relate to the struggles they face in their everyday lives and connect to romantic leads who look like them.
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011): Following a group of British retirees who decide to relocate to India, this is the perfect story of starting over.
- It's Complicated (2009): There aren't many movies about love triangles with older adults, but this one, which follows the relationships between a woman, her ex-husband, and her new architect beau, makes up for it.
- Something's Gotta Give (2003): Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson star in this film about finding love, and yourself, much later in life than expected.
Best Movies for Seniors with Dementia
Watching a popular movie from an earlier time in a person's life is often nostalgic, and it can also help alleviate symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's, particularly changes in mood like irritability, anxiety, and anger.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939): Dorothy and her friends are likely to elicit childhood memories, and movies with music can be especially effective for people who suffer from dementia because they encourage engagement and connection.
- It's a Wonderful Life (1947): Another particularly sentimental choice, this famous holiday film has universal meaning about how one person's life can affect so many others.
- Grumpy Old Men (1993): A multi-generational comedy, this movie also pushes past common stereotypes of older men and explores their genuine feelings and friendships.
Best Halloween Movies for Seniors
While many seniors may be uncomfortable with excessive horror or gore, movies are a great opportunity to celebrate the fun and frivolity of Halloween, with a little spookiness for those who like it.
- Hocus Pocus (1993): This story of three eclectic witches is an excellent choice that's light on scares but heavy on the Halloween mood.
- Dracula (1931): There have been many versions of Dracula over the years, but if you want a classic, this version starring Bella Lugosi is the best option.
- The Addams Family (1991): Although it's packaged as a straight comedy, the odd and entertaining Addams family is familiar to many people because of the television series, and the movie has surprisingly heartfelt sentiments about the importance of family connections.
Best Thanksgiving Movies for Seniors
When it comes to holiday movies, Christmas tends to get most of the attention, but Thanksgiving films can be just as heartwarming.
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987): John Candy and Steve Martin are the perfect odd couple on an accident-plagued journey to try to get back home before they miss their families' holiday celebrations.
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973): They may be children's cartoon characters, but Charlie Brown and his friends are a great addition to any holiday.
- Home for the Holidays (1995): Every family has its own degree of dysfunction, and the one in this movie is no exception. Most people, young and old, can relate in one way or another to this disastrous reunion for Thanksgiving dinner.
Best Christmas Movies for Seniors
For many people, Christmas is a time for creating memories and spending time with family. For others, it can be a time of great loneliness and isolation. In either case, a good Christmas movie can be a comfort and even bring a little magic.
- A Christmas Carol (1938): Charles Dickens' novel has seen many adaptations over the years, and almost all of them are worthy of a holiday viewing, but the original film has timeless appeal.
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947): This Christmas classic draws on the allure of Santa Claus, which, for many people, never really goes away.
- Elf (2003): When choosing a holiday movie for the entire family, Elf is a great option. It has humor, romance, and, most importantly, the reminder that family is at the heart of Christmas.
Best Fourth of July Movies for Seniors
The Fourth of July tends to focus on outdoor activities. Barbecues, pool parties, and yard games are common sights. But it's also an opportunity to explore important moments in American history, and for seniors who might be limited in terms of enjoying the great outdoors, watching a movie is an excellent addition to an indoor celebration.
- A League of Their Own (1992): Based on the true story of the first women's baseball teams, this inspiring movie about America's favorite pastime stars Geena Davis and Tom Hanks.
- Glory (1989): This movie follows the experiences of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and features an unforgettable Oscar-nominated performance by Denzel Washington.
- Born on the Fourth of July (1989): Based on the autobiography of Ron Kovic, this film explores the true meaning of patriotism during the Vietnam War.
Whether you need to laugh or cry, movies can open a doorway to imagination and old memories. Watching the right movie can cause an improvement in physical, emotional, and psychological health for seniors, and it's a great way to socialize and connect with family and friends. So grab a snack, settle in, and press play.