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A Friendly Day At The Movies


Dementia Friendly Saline+

Saline, Michigan


Seeking to offer an empowering program that destigmatizes living with dementia, Dementia Friendly Saline+ partnered with their local movie cinema, Emagine Theaters, to offer monthly screenings of classic movies in a safe and welcoming environment. In their words, “America’s first Dementia friendly movie program offers…an extraordinary yet “ordinary” program re-enabling caregivers to … once again enjoy going to the movies, but now in a beautiful, moving way, in the relaxed company of their loved one [living with dementia.]” An estimated 1,000 people are served by the program annually.

A sampling of features that make this program accessible, welcoming meaningful and innovative include: curbside reverse-valets who wait/sits with the a loved one while the caregiver parks the car – note: a similar service is offered inside the theater when the caregiver needs to go to the bathroom – , an easy to access welcome table selling affordable tickets, offering free name badges, programs and an array of goodies for guests to assemble their own goodie bags. Opening the theater doors early allows for pre-movie social time to meet and chat with others, enjoy a buffet of finger food including free popcorn and soda,  and pick up information and educational material. When the movie is about to begin, an Emcee invites people to be seated and engages attendees in activities, while volunteers help guide guests to their reserved seats,  offer free roll-up sandwiches or other bites to guests during the movie, and help guide people to and from the correct restroom and the Quiet Room off of the lobby.  During the movie theatre lights are on with the sound not overwhelming, and no one is “shushed”, instead theater goers are welcome to sing along, clap, stand up and dance and comment out loud! A post-movie door prize drawing is held before the emcee closes the afternoon event

A caregiving wife said, “You changed our lives.  We have so much to look forward to now! The movie was so much fun! He loved it! The volunteers were so nice, and so helpful! We felt totally safe and comfortable.”

Dementia Friendly Saline+ helps people with dementia and their caregivers to live in the community with less difficulty and more dignity.  Led by current caregivers, and persons living with dementia, this dedicated group successfully put suburban Saline, MI with an estimated population of  9,000 of which 25% are 65+, as the only designated Dementia Friendly City in Michigan with an officially declared and trained dementia friendly municipal workforce.  Due to the success of the Dementia Friendly Saline+ – A Friendly Day at the Movies program, the program has already expanded in Michigan and Wisconsin, and  the team is working with local organizations to replicate the program in Ohio and Utah.