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Creative Arts Programs for Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients

Activities stimulate imagination and communication

Research suggests that participants in arts programs often are more engaged and alert, better able to communicate, and in a better mood than before the activity. The arts can trigger memory, which allows those with Alzheimer's to use their imagination. Check out these four innovative programs:

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Family caregivers show loved ones a photograph and help them make up a story. The website offers free online training, a variety of photos and topics (animals, sports, kids, dancing, music, beach, humor) and a "start a story" feature, as well as the ability to share pieces or collaborate with others. Publish the piece on the site or preserve it privately online.

Alzheimer's Poetry Project

Poets recite well-known poems, asking people with dementia and their caregivers to chime in. They also collaborate on an original poem. A book with 65 poems used in the project is for sale on the site. Or watch interviews with project poets and get a mini-tutorial at

ARTZ (Artists for Alzheimer's)

This nonprofit in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Sacramento and San Francisco links artists and museums, and other cultural institutions, with folks with dementia and their care partners. Offerings include free weekly tours with art educators to museums, screenings of famous movie scenes and musical performances.

Memories in the Making

People with Alzheimer's might not be very verbal, but that doesn't mean they can't express themselves. This initiative, started by an adult child in an Alzheimer's Association chapter, has art facilitators draw out dementia sufferers and get them to paint or find another medium for expression. A section on the site offers watercolor and collage tips for caregivers.

Also of interest: Alternative treatments for dementia.

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