Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Connecting with Dementia

While the following article deals with museum initiatives with dementia patients in the USA, you can visit the Victorian Arts and Health website here to read about ‘The Memory Box’ – a Museum Victoria outreach program designed specifically for Alzheimer and dementia audiences.  Read about the kit topics here.

Claire Voon, Study Suggests Medical Students Should Visit Museums to Connect with Dementia Patients, Hyperallergic, 6 August 2015

Childhood Games and Pastimes Reminiscing Kit. Source: Museum Victoria.

Childhood Games and Pastimes Reminiscing Kit. Source: Museum Victoria.

Research has shown that engaging with art is beneficial to people with dementia, and a number of cultural institutions around the US have established therapeutic programs for patients suffering from such chronic diseases. A new pilot study recently published in Neurology finds that including medical students in these museum-based programs improves their attitudes towards dementia, likely strengthening overall doctor-patient relationships. Conducted by medical student Hannah J. Roberts and Dr. James M. Noble, assistant professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University’s Medical Center, the study argues for medical schools to incorporate such cultural programs into their curricula, which often limit experiences to traditional environments like hospitals and clinics.

“These programs rely on preserved abilities, provide a vehicle for nonverbal emotional expression, and develop a state of flow (concentration and pleasure derived from an intrinsically rewarding activity), leading to a sense of well-being,” the researchers write. “Including a medical student in such an experience could improve his or her understanding of existing community-based programs to complement aspects of palliative care strategies.”

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