Repeats on the telly are a long standing joke in most households over the Christmas period as the same old classics are re-hashed year on year. But if you’re going to be spending time this Christmas with a loved one with dementia, these old favourites may provide a way of spending some enjoyable time together.
The familiarity of favourite old movies, or programmes recreating everyday life in past decades, can prove comforting for older people with dementia, particularly if their concentration span is limited or they now struggle to follow dialogue and plot on the TV.
Here are our suggestions for some films, TV shows or comedy clips you might like to re-visit. Hopefully some of these will evoke a happy response, trigger a memory or two, and maybe even start a conversation.
Comedy partnerships such as Morecambe and Wise, The 2 Ronnies, and French and Saunders all have a timeless appeal which remain as engaging today as they were when first produced.
The Christmas Special shows from these comedy geniuses are sure to be repeated on the TV schedule at some point over the Christmas period, or if the timings of these don’t suit you, iconic sketches such as Morecambe and Wise’s “Breakfast” or The 2 Ronnie’s “Four Candles” are easy to find on YouTube.
Musical films remain a favourite with many older people. Music can provoke a powerful response in people living with dementia, and song lyrics often prove an enduring memory. The emphasis on song and dance in the films rather than relying on dialogue to tell the story make Musicals visually appealing and very easy to watch.
It won’t matter if the person can’t sit through the whole film - just dip in and out as concentration spans allow. Classic films that could appeal include The Sound of Music (1965), Singing in the Rain (1952), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954).
A glimpse into the past
Popular TV shows depicting life in previous decades may prove comforting and bring back a few memories. Open All Hours (depicting a corner shop in the 1970s), All Creatures Great and Small (set in a Yorkshire Vet’s practice in the 1940s) or Call the Midwife ( showing the East End of London in the 1950s) may appeal.
Christmas films with a sentimental, feel-good message don’t really age so it’s no surprise they make an appearance on TV schedules every year. Classics like Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) have an enduring appeal.
If it’s hard to sit through the whole film try just watching just the first and last 15 minutes to bring back happy memories of Christmases past.
Happy Christmas and enjoy some good Christmas viewing!
Rathside Care Home is a modern, specialist dementia care facility in Scawby near Scunthorpe that provides a comfortable “home from home” atmosphere for those who are living with dementia. If you’d like to arrange a free taster day or to find out more about our specialist dementia provision, phone us on 01652 462030.