More than 200 movie buffs and 20 volunteers enjoyed classic film clips and shared personal stories at the latest “Movie Moments at The Vogue.” The interactive event — presented at the Historic Vogue Theatre in San Francisco — provided a creative outlet for people with memory loss and their care partners.
Watching and discussing the well-known film clips stirred memories and sparked discussion for everyone who attended, noted Rachel Main, Family Support Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter.
“There is a stigma that people with dementia are helpless or suffering,” Main said. “‘Movie Moments at The Vogue’ has a humanizing element. While it’s true that dementia is a progressive, debilitating disease of cognitive impairment, people living with dementia can still enjoy a high quality of life. They can laugh, cry, share stories and memories, and participate in favorite pastimes — like going to the movies.”
Main served as emcee for the sold-out event along with Calvin Kai Ku, director of the Medical Clown Project, and Jan Wahl, a local celebrity and film critic. Sutter Health CPMC, Ray Dolby Brain Health Center and SF IHSS Public Authority sponsored the Dec. 7 showing. Elder Care Alliance, the Alzheimer’s Association, Medical Clown Project and Creative Aging San Francisco were Program Partners.
Wahl and Ku were part of the pre-show, interacting, laughing and reminiscing with audience members as they entered the theater. Ku also performed a few magic and clowning tricks.
Another Successful Event
Like the previous “Movie Moments” event held in May, the December showing was a great success. Organizers received positive feedback from both participants and volunteers alike. In addition to enjoying the program, many participants and care partners remarked how much they loved being welcomed and greeted by so many friendly volunteers.
“There was a diverse age range of attendees, which created a sense of community spirit that helped defy the stigma of dementia and aging,” said Adriene Iverson, president and CEO of Elder Care Alliance. “The experience provided care partners, health care professionals and loved ones with the opportunity to see participants in a new light – as individuals who can contribute their life experiences and wisdom.”
A number of senior living communities and organizations around the San Francisco area brought participants to the event, including Mercy Retirement and Care Center; AlmaVia of San Francisco; AlmaVia of San Rafael; Bethany Center; Memory Care Cafe; Irene Swindells Alzheimer’s Residential Care Program, which is part of California Pacific Medical Center, a sponsor of the event; Institute on Aging Social Day Program; Rhoda Goldman Plaza; Laguna Honda Hospital; Pacifica Senior Living; Carlisle Senior Living; and On Lok, members of the Alzheimer’s Association early stage support group. Rachel added that Senior Access Marin was not able to travel to the event as a group, but helped to promote the event to their members.
‘Hustle, Bustle and Excitement’
As the event began, the viewing room was full of hustle, bustle and excitement, Main said. “It was fun to see the twinkle in their eyes.”
She said everyone in the room could feel the sense of community and camaraderie. Audience members discussed a range of topics, including love and engagement, military service and careers, with conversation sparked by clips from movies like “Love Actually,” “West Side Story,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Julie and Julia,” and others.
“The focus was less on facts and anecdotes and more on engagement and asking questions,” Main said, adding that the diverse audience members included a Chinese couple, married for 70 years, who brought a translator to assist with the discussion segments.
The event transcends language barriers, Main said. “Those who speak other languages and those with communication impairments due to dementia are able to enjoy ‘Movie Moments.’”
As the event ended, one participant noted her excitement. “I felt like I was back in time and I was a little girl! It brings back a lot of memories. I had to wipe my eyes … Joy, joy, joy!”