Movie Moments Event Helps Erase Stigma of Memory Loss

Individuals with dementia have unique life experiences, and they can continue to contribute by sharing their wisdom, humor and insight.

At the latest “Movie Moments” event on Aug. 14, that message of inclusion — and erasing the stigma surrounding memory challenges — came through loud and clear. “Movie Moments at the Vogue” is a popular event that aims to foster a sense of community and provide a creative outlet for individuals with memory loss, along with their care partners.

The interactive event, held at San Francisco’s Historic Vogue Theatre, features clips of well-known films and encourages audience members to engage in discussion. The program is designed specifically for individuals living with dementia and provides a platform for creative remembrance and sharing of life experiences. Topics raised by the film clips include relationships, careers, military service and family, among others.

“Movie Moments” is a collaboration between several organizations: the Ray Dolby Brain Health Center, the Alzheimer’s Association, CreativeAgingSF and Elder Care Alliance. Local celebrity and film critic Jan Wahl served as emcee for the event.

Offering a ‘Humanizing Element’

Rachel Main, family support coordinator for the Ray Dolby Brain Health Center and the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter, notes that the well-loved movie clips and related discussion often stir memories for participants with dementia.

In turn, that discussion and experience of remembrance helps erase the stigma surrounding memory loss, and it helps members of the community view individuals with dementia in a positive light. Instead of seeing disability or impairment, people realize individuals with dementia can continue to enjoy a high quality of life, share their stories, participate in favorite activities and simply have fun.

The August event included a range of attendees of various ages and levels of cognitive impairment, Main said. She added that the diversity created a feeling of community spirit among participants that can help erase the stigma surrounding aging and dementia.

Measuring Engagement, Building Camaraderie

Main said event organizers measured response to the program using kiosks provided by HappyOrNot. The data gathered, including changes in mood and feelings about stigma and social connections, will be used to fine-tune future events to create a more dementia-inclusive community in San Francisco.

As participants share memories of life experiences sparked by the iconic film clips, they also sense feelings of camaraderie, Main said. The discussion focuses less on specific facts and anecdotes than on engaging with others and asking questions. In many cases, the “Movie Moments” event even transcends language barriers, with individuals who speak different languages and those with communication impairments from dementia having the opportunity to share in the positive experience.