Dementia Friendly Saline+ Wins National Award

For initiating the nation’s first Dementia Friendly Movie Program, nonprofit Dementia Friendly Saline+ has received one of three Innovations In Alzheimer’s Caregiving awards given by the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) of San Francisco.

The $20,000 awards celebrate state-of-the-art programs for persons dealing with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in themselves or persons they care for. Since early 2023, in close partnership with Troy, MI, based Emagine Entertainment, Dementia Friendly Saline+ has offered A Friendly Day At The Movies, an extraordinary approach to restoring the ordinary fun of going to the movies for persons with dementia, caregivers, families and friends.

The monthly movie events feature classic musicals, from Singing in the Rain, to Mamma Mia, shown with soft lighting, soft sound and no hard rules. During the movie, guests talk, sing along, clap hands, tap feet, even get up and dance in the aisles. There’s free popcorn, soda and a buffet table of free fingerfood. There’s goody bags, souvenir booklets, pre-movie Fun Film Facts, singalongs with on- screen lyrics karaoke style. There are costume contests, door prizes, even a Dancing Queen flash mob. There are trained volunteers helping guests every step of the way, from curbside reverse valet service, to simplified ticketing, to the path of purple footprints leading to the correct theatre, to helping guests sit where they like, without negotiating any steps. And helping get to and back from the restroom.

Jim Mangi, chair of Dementia Friendly Saline +, and originator of the program in the US, said, “It’s really a party where we show a movie, and about 90 people enjoy it every month. We’re happy to be helping so many friends deal with dementia with a bit less difficulty and a lot more joy. We’re grateful too for the enthusiastic cooperation of Emagine Entertainment, a corporate partner from Heaven, and for the support of over two dozen sponsors, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, AARP and others.

According to Chelsea Harvey, the Dementia Friendly Saline+ Program Manager, “Guests know they will be welcomed, they will get all the assistance they need, and they will be safe from embarssment because everyone else in the room is also on the dementia journey. Several have told us that coming to the movies, and even having it on the calendar to look forward to, has been a life enhancing experience. One wife said, ‘I was thrilled that my husband felt visible again’.” A daughter said, “My Mom felt she belonged.”

For more information about the award, and about A Friendly Day At The Movies, see FCA’s announcement:

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