International Conference Gets Creative Edge on Dementia

By McFadden, Susan | Aging Today, September/October 2005 | Go to article overview

International Conference Gets Creative Edge on Dementia


McFadden, Susan, Aging Today


Opportunities for creative expression and experiencing the arts can enhance the lives of people with dementia and those who care for them. Dalia Gottlieb-Tanaka, organizer of the First International Conference on Creative Expression, Communication and Dementia, stated, "What we aimed to achieve for this conference was to establish an interdisciplinary forum where people representing all the visual and performing arts could come together and learn about the role of the arts in dementia care."

More than 150 people representing a wide variety of professions came to Vancouver, British Columbia, in spring 2005 to exchange ideas about creativity and dementia. Art, music and recreation therapists, speech pathologists and psychologists, architects, neuroscientists and sociologists joined dancers, actors, painters, poets and musicians in two days of lively discussion about the transforming power of the arts for people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

INTERDISCIPLINARY

Participants who frequently attend conferences focusing only on their own areas of expertise repeatedly commented on how much they valued the interdisciplinary emphasis of this gathering. Emphasizing the importance of the interdisciplinary exchange at the conference, Gottlieb-Tanaka recalled being at numerous conferences developed for elders with dementia that "did not encourage all the creative-expression disciplines to get together." A participant of the Vancouver conference called it a "fabulous opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to work as a team to meet our residents' needs."

In addition to sitting and listening to formal talks, conference-goers in Vancouver were able to experience the arts firsthand as presenters led them in singing, dancing and drumming. At one point, every person was given a rhythm instrument. Led by a therapeutic recreation specialist and a professional drum group facilitator, participants joyfully created rhythmic patterns of sound.

Several themes emerged from formal presentations and participants' casual interaction. The arts, as well as programs that support and nurture creativity, give a sense of fulfillment, support the development of meaningful relationships and affirm the personhood of elders with dementia. Arts programs of all kinds can open pathways for growth in older people, as well as in those who work with them in long-term care settings, adult day centers and other venues.

Because opportunities for creative expression offer people with dementia ways of communicating feelings, they nourish and promote relationships. For example, one participant described the positive dynamic that developed when a group of people with dementia started to give feedback to one another about their paintings. Another told how a poetry program promoted more conversations among residents in a long-term care facility.

Several speakers emphasized the effects on staff when arts programs were introduced into their facilities. Lori Martin and Vicky Bach of Shalom Village in Hamilton, Ontario, described how staff became more creative in responding to residents' needs. When one resident became upset every evening at five o'clock because she wanted a nickel to ride the bus home to her mother, staff members, who had observed her in a letter-writing program, drew on insights they had gained from that creative activity. They developed instructions for staff to respond to the resident's pleas for a nickel, advising their colleagues to say, "Oh, yes, your mother is the wisest woman in town. People really respect your mother." This satisfied the resident and reduced her anxiety. Martin and Bach said they believe their letter-writing program made facility staff more aware of how to connect with residents' lives to improve care.

TO SUPPORT, NOT IMPROVE

Throughout the conference, participants emphasized that the arts should not be viewed merely as having functional purposes; rather, the arts should be embraced because of their intrinsic value and affirmation of the human spirit. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

International Conference Gets Creative Edge on Dementia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.