IT ALL BEGAN …..
The Museum of Modern Art in New York City (MOMA), developed a drop in
program for persons with cognitive impairment.
The program provided those with cognitive impairment the opportunity to
engage in discussions about the art pieces that are displayed in the museum.
Guided tours with directed questions were used to encourage the response
from those who may or who cannot respond to general conversations.
These tours gave those with cognitive impairment the opportunity to express
themselves when viewing the paintings that were included in the tour.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond was approached by the
Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Richmond Chapter to possibly develop a
program that paralleled the program at MOMA.
ART Links was and is the program that still offers the opportunity for art
engagement at the VMFA.
IT ALL BEGAN …..
• In California, a program was developed to give those with cognitive
disabilities an opportunity to participate in creation of art. This
program was adapted by the Alzheimer’s Association Chapter in
Orange County California, and is known as Memories in the Making.
• The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Richmond Chapter has adapted
this program for those in the Chapter Area who have cognitive
impairment and provides this through the day centers in Gloucester
and Warsaw as well as in the early stage and young on-set support
• This Greater Richmond Chapter also offers training once a year for
activity professionals and families on how to engage in these
“Creative expression is important for
everyone, but it is even more important for
those with dementia diseases for whom other
avenues of self-expression can be severely
Ann Basting and John Killick
The Art of Dementia Care
A Resource Guide
“ The human spirit does not
disappear…..we stay connected to the
person we are for longer than is
Dr. Bruce Miller
ALL HUMANS NEED TO:
Have a sense of purpose
Abraham Maslow, et all, 1943
of those diagnosed with dementia diseases is
important in possibly slowing the progress of
the disease in the early stages.”
“Determining Preferences and Feasibility for Institution Brain Health
Lifestyle, program for older adults in continuing care retirement
Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Volume 3, Issue 3, Supp 2, July, 2007
Four major symptoms of dementia diseases are:
“WHEN THE BRAIN IS AFFECTED BY A DISEASE,
such as Alzheimer’s or a malfunction such as
a blockage to the brain supply or by an injury,
we begin to experience life differently and
may in time act differently.”
Hearing the Person with Dementia
LEFT BRAIN VS RIGHT BRAIN
The left side of the brain is where our language
skills are contained.
Right side – music, art, creative side
Rhythm, pitch, and melody are all processed
by a different and distinct part of the brain
THE PERSON WITH DEMENTIA
• Understand more than you think
AND may respond if given time.
(It may take up to 90 seconds for the person to respond.)
• Can do more than we allow them to do.
• Respond positively to routines and schedules that mimic
her life long routine and schedules.
“Because art activities do not have a “right” or a
“wrong” answer, they can help solidify bonds
between caregivers and people with dementia by
giving them a space in which they can play
together. Together they can experience the joy of
creating something new and of communicating
on an emotional level.”
Johanna Misey Boyer, Author
WHY USE ART MEDIUMS AND CREATIVE EXPRESSION
WITH THOSE WITH COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT?
• Provides a voice to be heard and respected.
• The forms created are secondary to the process of creating.
• Motor skills enhanced
• Sparks memories and feelings
• Provides a way to tell “their story”
• Decreases isolation and depression
OPPORTUNITIES FOR CREATIVITY MAY……
• Provide a sense of freedom of expression
• Increase self esteem
• Provide a sense of connection to the community in which the
• Decrease behavioral challenges
• Allow a safe place for expression, builds confidence and emotional
• Decrease medications and boost immune system
Art is not limited to one cerebral
“If you look at a newspaper or a photo album,
those pictures can instantly transport you to
another time and place in life. The process of
creating images from one’s own unconscious is
even more powerful than looking at the painting
of another. Both can evoke response but the
process of creating the image is more to evoke
Nancy Gerber, PhD, Director of graduate art therapy education at Drexel
University,. Philadelphia. PA. “The Art of Therapy,” Neurology Now, Nov-
The memory belongs to
the person who created
Consider it an honor to
have this memory
shared with you.
•a work of art can tell a story.
•express an emotion, recreate a memory and serve as a
vehicle of expression.
Art allows for validation of feelings and a way to
communicate with each other.
WHEN WORDS FAIL,
“….While the arts are not a cure, they can
dramatically improve the quality of life that
remains and the quality of care giving
Ann Davis Basting
The Arts and Dementia, A Resource Guide
A sense of meaning and
purpose can improve
quality of life and mood
We all need meaning and
purpose in our lives.