Featured image for “New Program on Art and Dementia”

New Program on Art and Dementia

February 7, 2020

In 2020, the Art Center will launch a new program for adults with dementia and their care-partners.

As we prepare for this exciting new endeavor, we hosted a regional training in January on how arts programs can positively impact adults with dementia and their care-partners. The two-day training was facilitated by Hollie Ecker, a representative of the Arts and Minds organization in New York City, and attended by Art Center staff and volunteers, along with professionals from regional senior care facilities including McDowell Place (Danville, KY) and Morning Pointe of Danville (KY), Louisville (KY), and Franklin (IN).

The purpose of the training was to explore the role that art programs can play in improving quality of life not just for people with dementia but for their care-partners. Training facilitator Hollie Ecker is a teaching artist and museum educator who works with numerous major museums in New York City.

The Art Center of the Bluegrass is developing an art program inspired by the Arts and Minds museum programs in New York. The program will bring together adults with dementia and their care-partners for facilitated art-viewing and art-making activities. During the training, staff and volunteers practiced leading gallery talks that focused on deep observation of a single work of art, along with group discussion of that work. They learned to weave together elements of museum education and art history with open-ended questions that prompt participants to make personal connections to the art from their own life experiences.

The training participants also learned tips and techniques for art-making with adults with dementia, including adaptive tools that make it easier for those adults to interact with the art materials. Art programs provide cognitive support to adults with dementia, along with social stimulation. Program participants often present improved moods and decreased apathy after being involved in an art program. The benefits of the program are equally strong for the care-partners, who report positive outcomes including decreased feelings of isolation and stress.

The Arts and Minds training was funded by a grant from the Hudson Ellis Fund of the Blue Grass Community Foundation. The Art Center’s new program will begin in the spring. There will be no cost to program participants, as the program is being funded by Ephraim McDowell Health and Morning Pointe of Danville. Individuals who are caring for loved ones with dementia are invited to contact the Art Center to find out more about participating in the program.