Dementia UK offers advice on cinema outings

With leisure venues and activities starting to reopen and welcome back visitors in the UK, families and friends of people living with dementia have been offered some advice on how to make a trip to the cinema as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

Dementia UK passed on a number of pointers from admiral nurse Jo Freeman, starting with how important it is to choose the film carefully.

If the person you're taking enjoys listening to music, a musical could be a good option, or if they sometimes struggle to maintain concentration, a film with a simple and easy-to-follow plot might be the best bet.

The charity previously recommended particular films that people with dementia might enjoy, including Mamma Mia, The Sound of Music and classic comedies such as Laurel and Hardy movies. Many cinemas regularly show previously released and vintage films such as these.

Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO and chief admiral nurse at Dementia UK, said: "No experience of dementia is the same and families are always best placed to know which films or other activities would appeal to their family member with dementia.

"However, there are certain film genres or styles which can be appealing to someone with dementia. This can include films which do not have complex storylines and films where there is a strong action, comedic or musical element."

Another important consideration is the provisions available at the cinema you're going to visit. When planning your trip, ask questions such as:

  • Does the venue have suitable amenities for vulnerable people, such as disabled access and toilets?
  • Can you park close to the entrance, to reduce the risk of the person with dementia getting tired or confused on the walk from the car park?
  • Does the cinema offer relaxed screenings for guests with dementia or autism? These can provide a less overwhelming experience, with brighter lighting and reduced volume.

When booking your tickets, think about where would be the most convenient place to sit in the auditorium. End-of-row seats might be the best option if the person you're taking needs to visit the bathroom during the film or wants to leave before the end.

You might also want to reserve seats that aren't too close to the screen, since this could be overwhelming and distressing for someone with dementia.

Once the film is over, take the opportunity to ask your loved one what they thought about it and if it brought back any memories for them, which could help to stimulate positive emotions.

If it was an enjoyable experience, on future occasions you can refer back to your cinema trip to encourage reminiscence and help your loved one make new positive connections and memories.