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Restoring Memories Through Movies

A theater program is igniting the minds of dementia patients

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The program has another surprising benefit. During the sessions, "you can't tell who's the caretaker and who's the person with dementia," says Taylor-Mead.

"Care partners get to see that their mother, father, husband or wife can still be engaged in arts and cultural programs and have their own personalities and life stories and not be defined by their diagnosis," says Sean Caulfield, a cofounder of ARTZ.

The program also gives adult children the chance to learn new things about their parents. After watching Paul Robeson sing "Old Man River" in Show Boat, one woman volunteers that she once saw him perform and that "my parents were very happy that a black man at that time had become such a successful singer." Asked what sacrifices they have had to make in life, like Bogie lying to Bergman to save her from the Nazis, another answers, "Having to give up my 4 1/2 pound mini-Yorkie to move to assisted living."

Says Caulfied, "It allows family members to simply be spouses and children without exclusively being caregivers."

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