How Art Therapy Can Help Dementia Care

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Developing effective dementia care strategies for a loved one who has been diagnosed with this medical condition or is in the early stages of minor memory loss is important to ensure quality care. It can be frustrating for the dementia patient when they have difficulties remembering things, places, names, and other aspects of their lives.

This can lead to changes in personality where the patient can become upset, irate, angry, and confused. For caregivers, being able to provide assistance during these times is important by finding a common ground they can utilize to help the patient refocus. One such effective treatment that is being utilized is art therapy.

Art therapy can cover a wide array of different types of solutions, ranging from visiting art galleries to visiting with art students and developing patient appropriate art projects. For instance, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. recently finished a pilot educational program for caregivers and patients with dementia.

The program was created to help provide patients with a space where they could enjoy two to three specific types of artworks each visit and use these to build a rapport with their caregivers. The program was called “Just Us at the National Gallery” and involved bi-monthly guided tours.1

This form of art therapy helps stimulate memory centers of the brain as patients view works of art, and it has been successful in some patients. They can recall childhood memories, family members, and other aspects of their personal lives they may have been struggling to remember previously.

The University of Alabama Honors College has pioneered another form of art therapy to help with dementia care. In this program, art students are paired with dementia patients and given the assignment to learn the patients’ life story during an eight-week program.

During the program, the students use art to help connect with the patients, while working with them to create their own personalized memoirs into a leather-bound book. The patient receives this book filled with their memories and art at the end of the program.2

Art Therapy Can Help Dementia Care

Aside from these two types of community-based programs, caregivers can develop their own art therapy programs customized to their patients’ needs. They should schedule time each day and work with the patient on various crafts and art projects, from coloring or painting pictures to assembling models.

In addition, caregivers can schedule outings to nearby art museums with weekly or bi-monthly visits and use the National Gallery of Art’s program model and focus visits on just a few paintings or works of art. Art therapy has the ability to help draw out memories from deep within the mind in patients who are currently struggling to remember specific events and periods of their lives.

While they may not fully recall every detail, through art, they are able to find a moment of peace and happiness. To learn more about in-home care assistance programs and services in the San Antonio area for dementia patients, please feel free to contact Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care San Antonio families can turn to, at 210-858-6280 today!





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