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Friday, August 19, 2016

Art unlocks memories buried by dementia

Activities directors and other healthcare professionals here is a great dementia resource for caregivers and healthcare professionals.


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The Dementia Caregiver's Little Book of Hope [Kindle Edition]

Activities directors, other healthcare professionals and caregivers, another reason to use art therapy with those who have Alzheimer's and related dementias

DemocrarandChronicle.com
People disappear into dementia, losing their memories, their personalities, their ability to connect as they once did with spouses and children and the world around them.

Meet Me At The MAG" is a partnership between the Alzheimer's Association and the University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery aimed at helping them reconnect.

It is modeled after a successful and popular program at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, says Susan Daiss, the MAG's McPherson director of education.

"It's one of several things we're doing to integrate the visual arts and health care," she says, including a program that uses works of art to teach medical students to tap their powers of observation.

Meet Me At The MAG is one of those ideas that is so obviously promising you have to wonder why nobody thought of it long ago. "Museums are places of art," Daiss says, "and art is uniquely positioned to help unleash memories."

Sevev years ago, the gallery, with the help of medical students, ran a pilot program at an area nursing home, showing slides of artwork to patients with advanced dementia. "We saw enough to know this clearly could work," Daiss says.

So one day last month — a day when the gallery was otherwise closed to the public — several people with dementia and their caregivers were invited to visit the gallery. They were greeted by docents "trained to ask gentle questions such as 'What does this make you think of?'" Daiss says, "and then to follow the thread with further questions."

"One of the first paintings we saw was of two oak trees in Geneseo," says Joe Gersitz of Penfield, whose wife, Marion, has early-stage dementia. "Then we looked at a still-life of fruits and vegetables, with a girl sitting at a table crying from peeling onions." The art is meant to evoke emotions and tweak the senses, Gersitz says, and it did just that.

The art is carefully selected, Daiss says. "We look for works with a strong narrative content and the potential for association. We used a beautiful landscape of the Genesee River Valley by Asher B. Durand (a New York painter), and we used Norman Rockwell's Soldier on Leave from 1944. It shows a scene in a train where a number of couples are seated, but their faces are not visible. There is a young man in uniform, and there is a gardenia in the hair of a young woman." When the visitors looked at that painting, "the memories...............read the whole article

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