ARE YOU PARENTING YOUR PARENTS AND STRUGGLING TO FIND TELEVISION AND MOVIE PROGRAMS THEY WANT TO WATCH?
Covid-19 has many of us binge-watching Netflix, but not all popular programming is suitable for loved ones with memory loss.
Life as a caregiver is hard. Through trial and error, my family has curated a list of TV shows and movies that our Dad with Alzheimer’s and Mom with dementia enjoy watching together.
We’ve discovered some common elements that create a winning formula for finding shows they like.
Criteria for Selecting TV Shows
Does it feature animals?
Are there cute kids?
Is it family-focused?
Does it feature familiar music?
Is there physical comedy?
Will it make them smile, laugh, sing or even whistle?
As long as the program includes two or more of the above, my parents with memory loss will watch it. I hope your loved one will too!
Five Shows for Parents with Alzheimer’s to Watch on Disney Plus
Yes, I’m part of the generation that grew up spending Sunday nights as a family watching Wild Kingdom, followed by The Wonderful World of Disney. Maybe you did too?
So any program that begins with a colorful burst of fireworks behind the iconic castle most definitely captures Dad’s attention, at least for a while.
I can’t help but wonder if his willingness to re-watch these full-length movies is steeped in the nostalgia of happy memories from decades past.
THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG
This movie has it all … galloping horses, cute kids and the physical comedy of Don Knotts and Tim Conway. That’s Dad’s triumvirate for a great movie! I remember seeing The Apple Dumpling Gang as a kid. It stands the test of time and is still fun to watch for kids and grandparents with Alzheimer’s alike.
SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
More than 60 years since the film was first released, this shipwrecked family and their menagerie of animals are still a treat to see. Their grand adventures on a deserted tropical island are funny, wholesome and timeless. Who among us wouldn’t want to swap Covid quarantine for life in the Robinson treehouse?
The star of this movie is a football-kicking mule named Gus. He hilariously helps a team, coached by Don Knotts’ character, salvage their season. Tim Conway and Tom Bosley portray the villains, who attempt to kidnap Gus before an important game. Lots of laughs ensue! This movie is packed with familiar actors you’ve seen in many beloved Disney flicks.
THE LOVE BUG
There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as Herbie, the Volkswagen Beetle, helps rekindle the racing career and love life of Dean Jones’s character. If your loved one with dementia likes this movie, then check out the five additional Herbie movies. Lots of famous actors appear in the follow-up films, including Helen Hayes, Don Knotts, Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman.
This nature documentary follows an elephant family through the Kalahari Desert on baby elephant Jomo’s first migration. Narrated by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, the scenery is spectacular and captivating. Jomo finds plenty of fun and mischief along the way with the other animals his herd encounters. If your loved one with Alzheimer’s likes animals, they are sure to enjoy this documentary.
Five Shows for Elderly with Alzheimer’s to Watch on Netflix
This 2010 movie is based on the real life Thoroughbred horse who in 1973 became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Everyone likes a winner, including my parents, who cheer for Secretariat each time he races. Maybe your loved one will cheer too!
THE WAR HORSE
Dad loves a good war movie and will watch anything starring a horse. Mom loves period dramas and animal shows. So this World War I drama about a Thoroughbred horse, who is separated by war from his British teenage owner, is engaging for both Dad and Mom. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Some of the battle scenes can get loud, so have the remote at the ready to turn the volume down.
This heartwarming, soap opera-like drama is set on a ranch in Canada. Mom loves the multigenerational storylines, and Dad loves the horses. Perfect for binge-watching, this show has 12 seasons.
THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW
When the memorable theme song begins, my Dad with Alzheimer’s lights up and starts whistling. While I’m generally opposed to whistling indoors, I love hearing Dad happily whistle along. He may not know my name, but clearly there are still memories deep in the recesses of his brain. This 1960s sitcom with eight seasons stars little Ronny Howard as Opie Taylor, Andy Griffith as Sheriff Taylor and Don Knotts as Deputy Fife.
EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND
This family-focused sitcom has meddling parents Marie and Frank living across the street from son, Raymond, and daughter-in-law, Debra. You can laugh your way through nine seasons of this show that ran from 1996-2005.
Two Channels for Elderly with Alzheimer’s to Watch on YouTube
This sweet family popped up in my YouTube feed one day, and we’ve been watching them ever since. In fact, it’s our favorite channel to view when sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Lead singer/guitarist Colt Clark is backed by his young sons, Cash on bass guitar and Beckett on drum set. Then there’s adorable Bellamy, who knows all the Fortnite dances and shimmies her way through the music while singing backup and occasionally joining in on an instrument of her own. My parents love the Clark family and will sing along to favorite old Beatles tunes.
Broadway may be closed, but you can catch a star or two on each episode of Curtain Up! It alternately features performances by Broadway stars and talented elders from senior living communities. My mom loves to sing-a-long to the familiar show tunes.
Helping our elders through quarantine is tough. I hope some of these shows will bring joy to your loved one and assist you in coping with caregiving.
What does your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia enjoy watching? Please share in the comments below.
We’re all in this together!