Arts and Aging: The Arts as a Way to Improve the Quality of Life for Individual’s Living With Dementia

An article entitled How Art Therapy Helps People with Dementia and Alzheimer’s explains that “Art therapy can be a useful and fulfilling activity to help those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. It can increase the quality of life for those suffering and become a way of expression, even after other types of communication start to fail.”

Worldwide, there are agencies and projects advocating the arts as a way to improve the quality of life for older adults with dementia. Listed below are inspiring examples of projects that provide people living with dementia access to the arts and the associated benefits of engaging in arts-based activities.

music-for-memoryMusic and Memory is an American non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of older adults through digital music technology. The Alzheimer Society of Toronto and Jazz.FM91 partnered to implement a local Music for Memory iPod Project. The project was created “in response to overwhelming evidence showing the beneficial effects of music and stimulation on people living with dementia”.

The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care located in Vernon B.C. (with affiliates in Australia) offers resources in the form of workshops, conferences, and videos. Their website offers inspiring examples of artwork created by individuals with dementia.

h-artzThe American Foundation Artist’s for Alzheimer’s (ARTZ) enhances the cultural and creative life of people living with Alzheimer’s disease. “ARTZ draws on the support and collaboration of artists and cultural institutions, both nationally and internationally, as a collective resource, to share, educate and inspire.”

indexThe international documentary I Remember When I Paint highlights the “positive impact of art and other creative therapies on people with Alzheimer’s and how these approaches can change the way we look at the disease”.

An Artist with Alzheimer’s Drew Self Portraits for Five Years and the result is very moving. According to the artist’s widow “In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness”.

To see the transformative power of music and dance on older adults living with dementia check out this video.


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