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Arts In Health – Why We Should Be Using Art In Healthcare

Arts In Health – Why We Should Be Using Art In Healthcare

What is Arts in Health?

 

The idea that The Arts have a role in the health of individuals and communities has a long history in cultures around the world.i Arts in Health (also known as Arts in Medicine or Art in Healthcare) incorporates The Arts (visual, performing, literary, music, and dance) to support and enhance the continuum of care and plays a critical role in the overall health and well-being of people seeking help for various conditions.

This growing field of research and inquiry is developing world-wide, especially in The United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, and across Europe.ii Increasingly, medical professionals are ‘socially prescribing’ non-medical, community-based activities and services that provide patients and practitioners greater health options when faced with complex medical and social problems.iii Though not as developed as in other countries, there are various health initiatives that incorporate The Arts with diverse creative holistic approaches to health across Canada.iv

This multi-disciplinary approach to health is becoming recognized both as an effective and creative way to positively impact health outcomes in both inpatient and outpatient healthcare and community settings, and boost mental, emotional, social, physical and brain health.

Specifically, participating in the art-making process:

 

  • Reduces stress, anxiety and depressionv
  • Improves self-confidence,vi self-awareness and empowermentvii
  • Encourages positive self-care skills
  • Provides a supportive setting to socialize, decreasing loneliness and social isolation
  • Is an effective preventative tool to manage symptoms of chronic pain and illness, and diseases such as Dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improves and maintains neuro-spatial functions, memory processing and problem solving as we ageviii
  • Fosters emotional resilience, confidence, and personal growth
  • Is a healthy outlet and distraction tool to heal from physical, emotional, and psychological issues

To learn more, check out this infographic based on the research of Alain De Bolton and John Armstrong “Art As Therapy.”

 

Where does Arts in Health take place and what does it actually look like?

 
If you have ever been to a museum, a hospital, or community-based care home, you have most likely come across both art work and programs that fit under the umbrella of Arts in Health.

Museums and art galleries are accessible places where art can be viewed, questioned, created and bought. Artists and craftspeople are culture makers; they often play a huge role in cultural education and wellness. They are catalysts and bring people together through exhibitions, celebrations, ceremonial performances, and demonstrations. Artists can also showcase their work and sell their handcrafted art pieces.

Art work or painted murals are displayed in hospitals in hallways, waiting rooms, intensives care units, palliative and hospice wards, treatment and operating rooms and children’s wards. Outdoor art installations are also found on hospital grounds, music is played in high stress areas to benefit the patients and health-care staff, art activities are used at bedsides or during treatment (chemotherapy, radiation, and dialysis).

Community-based organizations such as rehabilitation and addiction centres, women’s shelters, day programs for people with diverse abilities, and immigrant services are just a few examples of where recreational forms of art-making are used to strengthen, to heal, and to communicate.
 

Who Benefits from Arts in Health Programs?

 
Along with other therapeutic interventions such as counselling, neurofeedback, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), occupational therapy and physiotherapy, The Arts allows us to discover, explore, practice, connect not only with others, but with ourselves. More specifically:
 

  • Kids and Teens: Approximately 20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder.ix Extracurricular activities such as art making can be especially beneficial for both teens and children because it provides a fun, non-threating, and inclusive setting where they can be introduced to new skills, learn coping strategies, shore up defenses and can develop deeper understandings of themselves and others.x
  • Socially Isolated Individuals: Approximately 1 in 5 Canadians say that are not satisfied with their number of friends.xi Loneliness is real. Making art with others can promote social satisfaction and allow individuals to connect with others with similar interests
  • Caregivers or other individuals with overwhelming stress and anxiety: Using The Arts is good place to begin when coping with the stresses of everyday life. Picking up a paint brush or writing in a journal can be small but positive self-care steps to improve everyday life
  • Individuals with diverse needs, abilities, and diagnoses: People with diverse physical, intellectual, developmental, and emotional needs thrive when art activities are tailored to suit their individual interests and needs. Those with chronic pain or illnesses also benefit from the art making experience which helps in pain management
  • Individuals who just want to have fun! Making art in a beautiful space with a variety of different art, alongside others can really boost our mood. We can also receive individualized and collective support and guidance while working on creative projects
  •  

    Who is considered an Arts in Health practitioner?

     
    Arts in Health practitioners are composed of a variety of individuals: professionally trained artists, artists-in-residence, expressive arts practitioners (who use multiple forms of art), arts or health educators, art consultants, community-based support staff, other health-care professionals, recreational instructors in hospital or community programs, or other creative individuals who incorporate art in health disciplines.xii

    These practitioners provide patients, family members, and caregivers with opportunities for creative engagement in a variety of ways. Many artists are involved in fundraising efforts for health-related causes. From auction items, art commissions, internet sales, art shows, and community events, artists are uniquely woven into the commercial market, bridging artistic development to benefit healthcare initiatives. It is common for artists to work as educators inside schools or workplaces. They lead students, teachers, businesses and organizations in creating collaborative art pieces, and provide training and professional development on how to practice self-care and how to infuse wellness in their classroom or organization.

    Artists have always played a pivotal role in places of religious expression and places of worship, such as churches, mosques, temples and more. They help bridge creative expression (music, building architecture, prayers) with spiritual health and healing.

    Musicians, performance artists, dancers, visual and literary artists play a huge part in improving our collective quality of life, especially during challenging times. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen how The Arts have brought us together and helped us cope anxiety and stress.
     

    So why does Arts in Health matter?

     
    Increasingly, the health-care system is going thought a shift, one that focuses on treating the whole person (body/mind/soul), not just the condition. Medical programs are integrating the arts into training, teaching and research because of the overwhelming evidence-based research that shows a direct correlation between healing and the arts.xiii

    This infographic provides a great visual on the importance of community-based Arts in Health.

    Both on an Individual and community level, at Alongside You, we seek to reduce the burdens of illness, to foster connection, provide hope and build resilience so we can help others live vibrant and thriving lives. It is for these reasons that we offer Arts in Health programs at Alongside You. If you have any questions about how our Arts in Health programs can help you on your journey, please reach out to me and I’ll be glad to hear your experience and talk about how including arts in your health plan could help!
     

    “An active engagement with the arts – whether as a participant, or as a viewer – is one effective way for individuals and communities to address issues of public health. We recognize that prevention and health promotion are important in avoiding the costs and issues associated with acute care later on, down the road. This is where the arts are effective in health promotion.”

    – Sarah Chilvers, (former Program Director for Health and Social Development for the Vancouver Foundation)


    i. Clift, Stephen, and Paul M. Camic (eds). Oxford Textbook of Creative Arts, Health, and Wellbeing: International Perspectives on Practice, Policy and Research. Oxford University Press. 2016. Page 3.

    ii. Clift, Stephen, and Paul M. Camic (eds). Oxford Textbook of Creative Arts, Health, and Wellbeing: International Perspectives on Practice, Policy and Research. Oxford University Press. 2016. Page 4.

    iii. Wouldn’t it be great to have this in Canada?

    iv. To name a few: Dalhousie University’s Medical Humanities Program called Heals, that combines the arts and humanities with healthcare; The University of Prince Edward Island’s Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing (AIRS) Research Environment that connects researchers across discipline with singing and well-being; McGill University’s leading researcher in neurosciences, Daniel Levitin’s work on the impact of music and the brain; Arts Health Network is hub that links research in arts and health knowledge across Canada; In Manitoba, University of Victoria’s Health Initiative (UHI) aims to enhance health research, healthy aging, indigenous health, and mental health.

    v. Repar, Patricia Ann DMA; Patton, Douglas Med. Stress Reduction for Nurses Through Arts-in-Medicine at the University of New Mexico Hospitals. The Departments of Music and Internal Medicine.

    Holistic Nursing Practice: July 2007 – Volume 21 – Issue 4 – p 182-186. University of New Mexico. Accessed July 14th, 2022. https://journals.lww.com/hnpjournal/Abstract/2007/07000/Stress_Reduction_for_Nurses_Through.4.aspx

    vi. McNiff, Shaun. Chapter 2: The Role of Witnessing and Immersion in the Moment of Arts Therapy Experience. P. 40. In In Mindfulness and the Arts Therapies: Theory and Practice. Laury Rappaport ed. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2014: 38-50.

    vii. McNiff, Shaun. Chapter 2: The Role of Witnessing and Immersion in the Moment of Arts Therapy Experience. P. 41. In In Mindfulness and the Arts Therapies: Theory and Practice. Laury Rappaport ed. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2014: 38-50.

    viii. Zeki, Semir. Art and the Brain. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6(6-7). 1999. Accesses September 14th, 2020. Link

    ix. Canadian Mental Health Association Statistics: Mental Health and Mental Illness. Link

    x. Coholic, Diana. Arts Activities for Children and Young People in Need. (2010). P. 11.

    xi. Canadian Mental Health Association. Coping with Loneliness. Link

    xii. Dewey, Patricia, Bettes, Donna et.all. Arts, Health and Wellbeing in America. (2017). Accessed July 15th, 2022. Link

    xiii. This is evident with the growing recognition amongst Canadian physicians the establishment of medical schools such as Queens University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Alberta that bridge medical training with The Arts.

Art In The Time of COVID-19

Art In The Time of COVID-19

We live in strange and difficult times. When the Covid-19 pandemic made its debut, our world was rocked by devastating loss of life. Our schools, businesses, and essential services were shut-down. Even still, both travel and the distribution of goods has been disrupted. Our medical system is being inundated with those fighting COVID-19 along with other illnesses. Though we are in the process of re-opening some of these things, the reality is setting in; Covid-19 has radically changed every fiber of our society. I wonder, how can art inspire us, and be a force for resilience in the time of COVID-19?

While social distancing requirements have forced the cancellation and suspension of many social, cultural, and artistic events and services, the arts have always been and continue to be a way to illustrate the resilience in our society, foster self-reflection and connection with others in profound ways. The role of artists and the arts is not just to record, commemorate, or comment on socio-cultural events, but to uplift, encourage and give hope to all those who see experience it.

It’s no surprise, then, that this health crisis has inspired artists to create. At this time in history, artists are illuminating the world around us. All around us, we can see a wide range of COVID-19 inspired artistic endeavours.

 

Examples of Art Emerging During COVID-19

 

Painted Posters and Rocks

 
Early on in this pandemic, many participated in the communal effort to cheer on frontline and essential service works with posters and scripted messages of hope and love to isolated populations, such as seniors in care facilities. With children home from school, painted rocks also became one way for youngsters to express their gratitude and connect with a seemingly intangible concept of a pandemic and quarantine. Placed discretely around town, happening upon these gems still reminds us that we are all in this together.

 

Street Murals

 
Across the Lower Mainland, street murals have been springing up everywhere. Murals adorn exterior walls of elementary and high-schools, under over-passes, downtown buildings, and malls. Locally, a mural was recently completed at Tsawwassen Mills Mall by artists Jan Rankin and a Natalie Way. Its beach scene reminds us of the connection we have to the nature around us. In downtown Ladner Village, a recently-completed mural done by artist Gary Nay helps depict the vibrancy of Ladner and the region.

What do these murals do? They help to create a sense of community, offer messages of hope, and add cheer, all of which we need during this time!

Across the Lower Mainland, “Open Air” art galleries are expanding. There is a new-found vigour as artists respond to the issues of today and the fight against COVID-19. Over 200 public art pieces in and around Vancouver are part of The Vancouver Mural Festival and range in subject matter, but they provide overall messages of love, community, strength and resilience. All art pieces are accessible online if you can’t get out to see them.

 

Online and Social Media Platforms

 
From the comfort of our homes, we can tour the world’s greatest museums, historical sites, and have access to online exhibitions. The University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, for instance, gives you digital access to their collections, and a range of podcasts, stories, and research.

Instagram and Facebook have some interesting links to innovative and timely art. On Instagram, the account @covidartmuseum consists of themes and art work related to Covid-19 and shows how, in tough times, art can be used for serious contemplation but also offer comic relief. On Facebook, “Dr. Bonnie Henry Fan Club” tells us of a tribute art show at the Ministry of Health showcasing artwork, such as paintings, signs, mosaics and fibre arts, sent to Dr. Bonnie Henry from people all over the province and world.

We can also peek inside the life of an ER nurse, Anna Trowbridge, who sketches the scenes at work and posts them to her Instagram account. Her drawings show us how things really are on the front lines. Though this may be hard for some to take in, it captures the human side of the pandemic and highlights the heroic nature of our health care workers.

 

The Importance of Art Through COVID-19

 

Making art is one way we can practice self-care and learn positive coping strategies, both of which builds resilience

 
Viewing, and even more so, making art can be an important part of your self-care routine. Setting aside time to do something creative has been shown to reduce stress, protect against depression and anxiety, and can improve self-confidence and problem solving skills. Enjoying the mindful process of creating can help in pain-management, and it offers positive distraction tools and healing. Whether it is journaling, painting, singing, dancing, or knitting, our chosen activities helps to shore up our defences and learn healthy habits that we can use to sustain us during tough times. As we head into Fall, with the possibility of further shut-downs, we need the arts now more than ever. Its times like these where art can make all the different to keep our spirits up.
 

Making art together feeds our needs as social beings

 
Making art with others brings with it social benefits; it allows a space for relationships to be built, fosters a sense of belonging, and provides an outlet for self-expression. As we face COVID-19 fatigue and social distancing measures, doing something together with others is becoming more and more important for our mental health. It is not the art itself that has true value, it’s the ideas, conversations, choices, and connections we have made with ourselves and with others as we create that matters. Whether it’s connecting with a small group of people in person or online, the social nature of art helps us to not only to share our stories or voice our own opinions, but to listen to others with a compassionate ear.
 

Self-expression through mindful making helps us make sense of the uncertain world around us

 
This pandemic has compelled us to look at what matters to us, what we deem as essential, and to reflect on our lifestyle. Tuning into the present moment with self-compassion allows us to stop, breathe, observe, acknowledge, contemplate, and respond to our current state. Approaching the art making process in a mindful way can be very relaxing as well as restorative. Thoughtful experimentation can help us cope with the chaos around us and help us to express our beliefs and opinions and be open to new ways of thinking and doing. Giving yourself permission to question your own thoughts carefully, and without judgment, is an effective way to learn more about yourself and to rest and regroup.

 

How Can We Infuse Art Into Our Lives During COVID-19?

 

Art can be a major benefit for all of us as we head into the the Fall season, and into further unknowns. With school starting up, work shifting, and all that comes with this, we need now more than ever to take care of ourselves. Here are a few ideas on how we can use art to manage through this challenging time:
 

  1. Check in with your local community centres, artists’ guild, or private classes in the arts. There are so many wonderful artists in our communities and many are offering classes or experiences you can take part in.
  2.  

  3. Create or buy art for your loved ones. Whether you make something yourself, or buy from a local artist, your gift can show others you are thinking of them. Supporting local businesses and donating to local causes also creates a stronger community! At Alongside You, sales of our jewelry, cards, and art help to fund our Step Forward Program, a program that has become increasingly important in subsidizing services for those in need of financial assistance.
  4.  

  5. Learn a new skill online. How we do art has changed, and with many programs facing shut downs, artists and organizations are finding ways to adapt their art making offerings. Online learning tools and YouTube videos are a great way to try something new. Finding a live class can also help connect those who may feel isolated. Learning to dance, paint, draw, sing, knit, write poetry, or play an instrument with the help of online tools is a great way to pass the time as we stay home!

  6.  
    What we’ve learned over time is that the creative arts are essential. They enrich our lives, they help us practice self-care, encourage connection, embrace challenges, share our stories and knit our community together. Creative connection is crucial, especially now. May you be safe, be calm, and be kind.

     

    EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT! Open Studios are Back! COVID-Style.

     
    After long last, we are excited to announce the opening of Open Studio Sessions, COVID-Style. We’ve made some changes to our operations and programming to keep people safe and healthy while being able to open the studio back up! We can not express how excited we are to welcome you into the studio again!

    Click here to read about some of the changes and how to register for Open Studios again. We look forward to seeing you!
     
     


    1. Herring, Daniel. Mindfulness-Based Expressive Therapy for People with Severe and Persistent Mental Ilness. P.171. In In Mindfulness and the Arts Therapies: Theory and Practice. Laury Rappaport ed. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2014: 168-179.
    2. Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L. & Burney, R. J The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain. Behave Med (1985) 8: 163.
    3. McNiff, Shaun. Chapter 2: The Role of Witnessing and Immersion in the Moment of Arts Therapy Experience. P. 40-41. In In Mindfulness and the Arts Therapies: Theory and Practice. Laury Rappaport ed. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2014: 38-50.

Introduction to Art Journaling




art journaling workshop


Summer 2017 – Introduction to Art Journaling

Date: 4 Session Class in July 2017 (JULY 5TH, 12TH, 19TH, AND 26TH)

Time: 6:30pm-9:00pm

 

Early Bird Price (Before June 21st): $99+GST
Regular Price: $125+GST | Registration closes on June 28th, 2017
Use coupon code “EARLYBIRDAJ” in our online store prior to May 25th for the early bird pricing

Availability: We require a minimum of 4 individuals and a max of 8 to run the workshop. We will refund all fees if a cancellation occurs and will give as much notice as possible to clients.

Register Now!

Have you ever wanted to try art journaling but need a nudge to get started? Do you journal or write regularly and want to take it to the next level by incorporating visual art? Do you want to learn some new techniques and get your hands on some inspiring prompts? Come and draw, paint, write, explore and create at our Introduction to Art Journaling workshop!

What You Will Learn

Working with your own personal journals, you will be guided through how to:

  • Apply a variety of techniques to alter journal pages using a range of lettering, collage, foil, pastels, salt, acrylic paint, alcohol ink and a range of watercolour mediums.
  • Carve your own personal lino-cut stamp, make foam-prints, and hand-cut your own stencils.
  • Alter pages with folds, pockets, and found material.
  • Learn how to build your own on-the-go art journaling kit so you can journal anywhere!
  • Incorporate thought provoking prompts and inspirational topics to help you explore what it means to “Be You.”

What You Need To Bring

  • A notebook. You generally want something portable (that is easy to pop in your purse or bag and not smaller than 5×7.Picking out a notebook is a very personally thing! Do you want lines or blank pages? Handmade paper or smooth pages?
  • You can also choose to bring an old book and alter its pages, using them as backdrops for your work. Make sure the binding is secure and that pages are not coming loose.
  • A black thin-line pen or marker. You will be using this constantly to sketch and write.
  • A white paint or ink pen for writing or sketching over your pages.

Come with the basics and some of your favorite tools and we will provide the rest!

What We Will Provide For You To Use In The Studio

We have an assortment of:

  • Pencils, ink pens, gel pens, and sharpies
  • Wide range of papers, foils, tissue, textured and printed material.
  • Scissors, paper cutters, tracing tools, templates, stencils, and rulers
  • Tape (masking, washi, duct), glue, acrylic medium, gel medium, gesso
  • Watercolours (pallet, crayons, pencils, pens), oil paint, and acrylic paint
  • Chalk and oil pastels, stamping objects, ink, sponges, brushes, alcohol inks, fabric, and much, much more!

Is This Just For Artists?

Absolutely not! Art journaling can be done by anyone! Art journaling is your own personal place where you can experiment with colour, materials, textures, and script. You don’t have to show your art journal to anyone as they may contain your own personal thoughts and your personal creative expressions and that is okay!
It is the creative process that is important. Your journal is a place for you to work things out, to express your inner most feelings. It doesn’t have to be perfect as you are using your journal as a place to experiment with your creativity. Your art journal is yours alone and you do not have to discuss the content of your journal with anyone unless you wish to do so. We are always here and ready to assist you in any way.

Have Further Questions?

If you have any further questions, please contact Meg Neufeld at the office by calling (604) 283-7827 ext. 703 or by emailing meg@alongsideyou.ca and she will be happy to answer any questions you might have!




art journaling workshop art journaling workshop

Christmas 2016 – Open Studio Sessions

Christmas 2016 – Open Studio Sessions

Celebrate the art of making things together!

Weekly themes are demonstrated in the first 15 mins of Open Studio time. Participants are free to create art pieces related to the weekly theme or can explore art activities of their choice.

 

Foam-Printed Cards – Monday December 5th and Wednesday December 7th

Create your own personalized foam stamp and make an endless number of cards for the special people in your home and work life! Learn the basics of speedball-printing techniques and make a printed art piece to take home or give away!

 

Decorations and Wreaths – Monday December 12th and Wednesday December 14th

Get into the holiday spirit and create your own unique multi-medium wreaths, decorations, or tree ornaments using a variety of materials such as: buttons, fabric, cardboard, and paint. From traditional and contemporary, to the subtle and whimsical, come explore some neat ideas while materials are at your fingertips! Make it for yourself, or give it as gift!

 

Gifts Galore – Monday December 19th and Wednesday December 21st

Come and make some personalized gifts for friends and family. You can make wood-burned boxes, picture frames, wooden spoons or cutting boards, air-drying clay pendants and beaded jewelry, or paint a picture — the options are endless.

 

Need a gift for someone you love? We have Gift Cards!

Think outside the box and give the gift of creativity to our Open Studio Sessions. Come along to create an unforgettable time of making and sharing, or send loved ones on their own for some much-needed down time. Gift cards can be purchased in person at our clinic, or can be purchased online in our online store by clicking here!

christmas 2016 open studio sessions

Use Art To Improve The Quality Of Life For People With Dementia

Use Art To Improve The Quality Of Life For People With Dementia

Did you know engaging in creative art activities can enhance the quality of life of those who have Dementia and Alzheimer’s?  Anne Davis Basting hits the nail on the head when she says” the visual arts offers a way to communicate beyond words[1].” Art can have a profound impact on the lives of those suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

 

What is Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada defines Dementia as a group of symptoms that affect the brain’s ability to reason, remember information, communicate, and perform day-to-day-activities. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia (50%-70 % of all dementia cases are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s). However, memory loss can also be caused by other factors such as anxiety, vitamin deficiency, cardiovascular health, infection, thyroid function, and even depression.[2] Unlike Alzheimer’s, these conditions once diagnosed, can still be treated, are often temporary, and at times, reversible. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are faced with an incurable disease that affects both language communication and memory retention.

With Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive decline of communication skills occurs. In the early stages, there are word-finding problems, comprehension difficulties, writing and reading difficulties. Over time, word-finding problems increase and conversation diminishes. This will eventually lead to limited verbal communication, the inability to read or write, difficulty expressing feelings, and challenges in recognizing family members. We’ve discovered that emotions and creativity are some of the last functions to decline. Therefore all efforts to preserve these functions through engagement and activities should be encouraged. [3]
As you can see, the differences between the two conditions are significant. it is important to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment for cognitive impairments related to Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

 

Dementia: Let’s Talk Numbers:

These numbers were provided by The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada and the results are astonishing!

  • Worldwide, there are 44 million people who now have some form of dementia. In Canada, there are currently over 747,000 Canadians currently living with dementia.
  • 1 in 11 Canadians over age 65 has dementia and 1 in 3 Canadians know someone with dementia.
  • The Arts and Health Network points out that if real action is not taken to prevent or decrease cognitive decline, by 2031, there will be over 1.4 million Canadians living with cognitive impairment.

Take a look at this infographic provided by The Arts and Health Network here for more information on Dementia and the Art.

 

How Does Dementia Impact Others?

According to the “We Rage, We Weep Alzheimer’s Foundation” based in Victoria, BC, family and friends provide most of the care for those with Dementia. Moreover, 70% of caregivers assume at least 80% of the financial burden of caring for their loved one. It is also reported that those with Dementia only leave their homes once a week. You can view additional information by checking out these statistics on Dementia.

 

What Role Does Making Art Play in Improving the Lives of Those With Dementia and Their Caregivers?

Participating in creative arts has proven to be an effective therapeutic activity that adds to the quality of life for both patients and caregivers. For those with Dementia, being involved in creative activity, such as music, dance, and the visual arts can help diminish and prevent the progression of cognitive impairment.

 

Arts and Aging: The Research:

Several case studies and small trials suggest that using art as therapy improves attention span, social behavior, and self-esteem[4] along with neuropsychiatric symptoms and psychological resilience.[5]

In a 2006 control-group study[6], Dr. Gene Cohen, a leading researcher on creativity and the aging process, found that those who participating in arts and cultural programming had:

  1. An increase in overall health, positive moral, and improved response to treatment.
  2. Positive improvement of depression symptoms, social isolation, and feelings of loneliness.
  3. Fewer doctor’s visits and reduction on hospital stays.
  4. Improvement on cognitive functions.
  5. Decreased usage of prescription and over-the-counter medication.

 

Case Study – Amazement Through Art: 

Alongside You had the pleasure of visiting with an elderly gentleman who was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. His find motor skills were a challenge to use, but he managed to hold a paint brush with the help of his caregiver. He had never taken to art before, but his caregiver had tried art with him at home a few times and he seemed to enjoy it.  As we helped him pick colours, apply them to the canvas and washed his brush, he kept asking: “Who is painting this, who is doing this?” He could not make the connection that he was painting the picture in front of him. After several failed attempts to explain that it was he who was in fact painting with the brushes, we had the idea to take his picture and film a short video. After filming for a short while, we set the iPad in front of him along with his painted canvas. As he looked, he slowly came to realize that it was he who had painted it and he just started to laugh. With continued fits of laughter, he just couldn’t believe it was him! “That’s me? That’s not me! I can’t do that! But I see it’s me! There I am making the picture!” He was grinning from ear to ear and it was the most animated he had been all week. His sense of humour as a youth had returned in that moment and joy filled his heart and ours. Using art, we were able to step over the barriers of verbal communication and communicate in new and exciting ways. That day, art was truly transformational.

As can be seen in the case study above, art can be used as an effective tool to slow down cognitive deterioration, stimulate and engage patients and increases the quality of life of those affected.

 

Person-Centered Artistic Care:

Creative arts is not a cure for Dementia or any other Dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. However, it has the power to foster dignity and restore a sense of self. By unleashing the creativity in individuals, art encourages past memories to come to life and has the power to validate a person’s current situation. Mindfulness-Based Art Programing celebrates present tasks in a non-judgmental manner, focusing on the current capabilities of a person. Often, this process brings joy and makes meaningful moments, enhancing the relationships with those around them. 

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Revisit our page later for our next post…where we discuss how to begin using art with Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients!

 

 

[1] Anne Davis Basting, Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia. John Hopkins University Press. 2009: 124.

[2] The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. What is Dementia: Link: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/What-is-dementia  What is Alzheimer’s http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease Accessed 18th September, 2016.

[3] Dr. C. Potts, How Art Therapy Enhances the Quality of Life for Dementia Patients. http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-04-29/art-therapy-for-alzheimers/ accessed September 16th.

[4] Van Lith, T, Schofied, M and Fenner, P. Identifying the evidence base for art-based practices and their potential benefit for mental health recovery; A critical review, Disability and Rehabilitation. 2013.

[5] Anne Bolwerk, et al. How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. PLOS ONE 9 (12): 2014

[6] Dr. Brian Cohen. The Creativity and Aging Study
The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults Final Report: George Washington University. 2006:1-8