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Alzheimer’s Patients Benefit with Art Appreciation Therapy

August 4, 2014 0 Comments

Alzheimer’s patients in Canberra are gradually reviving memories and reconnecting with the world through art appreciation therapy. This is all thanks to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and their initiative to help the elderly.

The National Gallery of Australia is home to more than 160,000 works of art covering 4 main areas:

  • Australian art,
  • Asian art,
  • European and American art, and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

The gallery opens its doors each week to aged care residents who are Alzheimer patients for art appreciation therapy tours.

Adriane Boag of the National Gallery of Australia says, “A work of art, I think by its very nature, asks people to engage, to inquire, to interpret.”

Carers and art guides interact with Alzheimer’s patients. The elderly patients are asked to observe, describe, interpret and share memories that they associate the works with.

The gallery guides who manage the weekly tours say that art helps aged care residents overcome the loneliness and isolation that accompanies Alzheimer’s.

Robyn Boyd from Goodwin Aged Care says, “I think it is about provoking memories within the residents and that then lends to opportunities for them to express those emotions and those memories, and engage with the other residents as well as the educators.”

The Alzheimer’s art appreciation therapy tour is not something new. In fact, it has been active for seven years and is already attracting international interest as more art galleries around the globe are launching their own arts therapy tours.

Boyd adds, “Really great outcomes for our residents, so a reduction of anxiety and distress within our residents living with dementia, also higher levels of social engagement.”

The national organisation leading in dementia programs, Alzheimer’s Australia, says that there are around 332,000 Australians living with dementia with 1,700 new cases being diagnosed per week.

As the population continues to age, dementia will become a major concern and programs such as the art appreciation therapy will become significantly important.

For more information on the program, please visit:
Quality Dementia Care (Publication 3 in the Quality Dementia Care series)

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