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Can Dementia Patients Enjoy Art Museums?

Posted Jun 08 2012 4:17pm
Art museums all over the Country are starting programs for people with Alzheimer's and other dementia's. Why would they do that? Can someone with dementia appreciate art as displayed in large public museums. The answer is a resounding "Yes!"

One such program was recently introduced at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It is called "Meet Me at the DIA." Here are some quotes from it's website
 "People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are often isolated and have few opportunities to interact socially or remain involved in the community,” said Jennifer Czajkowski, executive director of the DIA’s Learning and Interpretation department. “This program provides a safe, inspiring environment for social engagement and intellectual stimulation, where participants will feel welcome and comfortable. All participants, including caregivers, are encouraged to contribute to the discussions, which are based on the observations and connections made by the group. Each person will receive a small print of a DIA artwork so conversations can be continued after leaving the museum."

 “Meet Me at the DIA,” is modeled after a successful program at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is intended to enhance Alzheimer’s patients’ quality of life through mental stimulation, communication, personal growth and social engagement. Similar programs have been shown to increase the mood and self-esteem of dementia patients and their caregivers immediately following their visit and for days afterward."

A quick search reveals the following partial list of art appreciation programs for people with dementia
Detroit Institute of Art
Museum of Modern Art
Frye Art Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Michigan State University Kresge Art Museum
Carnegie Museum
Rubin Museum of Art
Milwaukee Public Museum
Minneapolis Institute of Art

If your community is not listed, I recommend checking with the art museum in your town. If a program does not yet exist in your community, feel free to quote this post in persuading decision makers to establish this worthwhile experience for people with dementia.

 Bob Tell, Author
Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal
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