Using the Arts to Promote Quality of Life for People With Alzheimer’s

  • Interest in the arts as enhancers of life's quality is pretty well understood. Studies have shown the healing effects of music. I wrote about one such study in "Music Therapy Helps Some Regain Speech After Stroke." No matter what our age or health situation is, music, as well as the other fine arts and crafts, help most of us live life more fully.


    Assisted living centers, nursing homes and adult day services have for years focused on music and art as entertainment, as well as therapy, for their residents. Lately, however, the movement seems to be gaining even more steam.


    There are many web sites touting arts for seniors and those with brain disease. I'm particularly impressed with the three I've listed below:

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    Creativity Matters, at, offers The Arts and Aging Tool Kit, a resource for people in the arts and aging services fields. If you want to set up a program to help seniors and those with dementia, this is the site for you. However, this site is valuable for anyone interested in how the arts can be used to increase the quality of life for all seniors, as well as those with dementia or anyone who has age-related issues.


    National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), at has a very good program which "is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and the quality of life of older people. Creative expression is important for older people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, regardless of economic status, age, or level of physical, emotional, or cognitive functioning," the web site says. I agree.


    The third site I found was Arts for the Aging, Inc. at This site also offers ideas and support anyone interested in using the arts to create a better quality of life for seniors.


    Their mission is well explained in this paragraph from their site: "Arts for the Aging, Inc. (AFTA) is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides visual, performing, literary and intergenerational arts outreach programs specially designed to enhance the health and well-being of seniors."


    It never hurts for nursing homes, assisted living centers and day services to expand their programs. Nor does it hurt for families to press for some changes in these areas. The three sites above will give anyone a useful background to push for change and expansion. Anything that can improve the quality of life for those with dementia, or for seniors in general, is well worth pursuing.


    Whatever senses a senior may find diminishing - whether sight, hearing or brain function - there is an art form that can fill in some of the gaps and decrease the sense of loss. Explore what these sites offer. Maybe you'll find something useful to promote to those who care for your loved ones.


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Published On: April 27, 2009