Money & Business

Association Chapters Help People With Alzheimer’s Connect With Art

By / Feb 11, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A number of Alzheimer’s Association chapters throughout the country are collaborating with art museums to provide special programs geared toward those with memory loss and cognitive impairment.

Studies have shown [PDF] that creating and looking at art can have beneficial effects on those with cognitive impairments and dementia. So a number of chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association have been partnering with art museums and galleries to develop programs specifically geared toward people living with the disease.

The Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida, for example, just announced an expansion of its Alzheimer’s program, which the museum created in collaboration with the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Based on the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) Alzheimer’s Project, the Polk Museum’s Meet Me at PMoA program includes a specially designed gallery tour and talk for people with dementia. The tours take place every third Thursday of the month, and the expanded program now includes an opportunity for these visitors to create art as well.

“Until a proven treatment that delays or cures Alzheimer’s disease is found, patients must use all available methods to stimulate brain activity and enhance cognition,” a representative from the California Central Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association wrote in a newsletter article geared toward caregivers. “So consider adding a weekly trip to a local art museum or joining an art group to your strategy in fighting Alzheimer’s disease.”

Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior with symptoms worsening over time, is the sixth leading cause of death in America and currently affects more than 5 million Americans. An evaluation [PDF] of MoMA’s Meet Me program by researchers at New York University found positive changes in mood in both the program’s participants and their caregivers.

“Art has a way of bringing you back,” Julie Green, senior manager of school programs at Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The Carolos Museum offers a Museum Moments program for people with early memory loss.

Several chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association throughout Georgia have partnered with museums in the state to offer specially designed programs for people with memory loss, the Journal Constitution reported.

“It’s so important, especially in the early stages,” Suzette Binford, programs director of the Atlanta Regional Office for the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia chapter, told the newspaper about the benefits of connecting with art for those with the disease. “Because they can still relate to art in a special way, it lets them feel like they still have a voice.”

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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