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Restoring Memories Through Movies

A theater program is igniting the minds of dementia patients

A social thing

Being at the Coolidge also tackles another struggle dementia patients and their caregivers have: isolation. Both sides can see others struggling with similar challenges, and can socialize with peers. Robert Baker, 74, a Cambridge, Mass., real estate owner and manager recently geared up for his third silver screen trip to the Coolidge. "I don't openly admit to having dementia," says Baker, "and part of me is in denial, but these are my people and I want to be with them. I realize I'm not alone out there."

Susan Forster, an art appraiser, brings her mother to the Coolidge faithfully. "People are very important to my mother," says Forster, who moved her mother from New York to Boston last year so she could live with her. "This is a wonderful way for her to be social."

Perhaps soon there will be similar programs across the country. Not only does the Coolidge plan to offer events again in 2012, next January the theater and ARTZ will propose replicating the program at the annual conference of independent theaters around the country, and offer training sessions to help them create their own version of "Meet Me at the Coolidge."

Sally Abrahms writes on aging and boomers for national magazines, newspapers and websites. She is based in Boston.

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