Meet me at the MoMA

The MoMA’s Alzheimer’s Project: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia

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Living with Dementia

An inspirational extract from a blog by Bruce Bane

Dementia and Conversation

“I think people take conversation for granted. Not me. That’s because I’m not good at it anymore; I’m not good at holding up my end of a conversation. I don’t know what to say next or I don’t know where the conversation is going or I get stuck on one part of the conversation or my response is off topic. Some of this depends on how well I know the person, how well I know what we’re talking about, or how well I’m feeling. For whatever the reason I’m not a good conversation partner anymore.

Even the simple questions, “How are you?” or “How do you feel” are hard to answer. I could say “Pretty good,” or “Not bad,” or “Okay,” but none of those are true because I don’t really know how to tell you how I am. I can usually tell you if I feel tired or if I have some pain, but there’s so much more that I can’t put words to (or put the right words to). Specific questions might help, but to leave me to figure it out on my own is confusing and frustrating. Anita suggested I just be honest and say “I don’t know.” And she’s right; that tells it how it is. And it’s a request to help me figure it out.

But what I want to tell you is this: enjoy the little conversations you have during the day. Whether they’re just time fillers or conversations with friends, don’t take them for granted. Instead, see them as little gifts waiting for you each day.”

The Blue Brain

The Blue Brain Project

“Reconstructing the brain piece by piece and building a virtual brain in a supercomputer—these are some of the goals of the Blue Brain Project.” The leaders of this project claim this virtual brain will be an exceptional tool to give neuroscientists a new understanding of the brain and a better understanding of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Depression.

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Ophelia Has A Dream

Cruising the internet, or what my beloved Grandma used to call the interset – I came across this exquisite video Orphelia Has A Dream by Miharayasuhiro and Paolo Roversi via an inspiring blog:  The Artful Blog. This magical, interactive film was apparently made in celebration of the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition on show at Tate Britain

A brilliant in depth discussion of John Millais Everett’s original painting of Ophelia, which the contemporary version is clearly inspired by, can be seen at Khan Academy. The original painting is a scene deriving from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which Ophelia who apparently “loses her mind” when her father is murdered by her lover Hamlet, drowns herself in a stream. Shakespeare’s scene can be read here plus Ten things you never knew about Ophelia

Intentionally seeking out art that incorporates the human hand in some shape or form to inspire my research: Ophelia’s left hand in this contemporary version immediately captivated my attention. With her delicate palms turned upwards, seemingly in submission and in acceptance of her fate, before she drowns, floating in a ditch of flowers. I would be fascinated to hear the response and reaction of people who are living with dementia.  Some of the flowers, in the original painting, which include forget-me-nots, resonate as a powerful symbol of dementia.

Dementia Patients Find Their Memory Through Art – as in some museums in the UK which are becoming more and more dementia friendly i.e Royal Academy and National Portrait Gallery, it is now commonplace in cities across Germany to provide museum guided tours for people who are living with dementia – followed by a hands-on activity after interactive discussions of a specific theme of painting/s in the gallery.

“The fact that music can instantly evoke memories and emotions in those with dementia is well known. But that images can have a similar effect on the collective and personal memory is not as widely accepted” according to Andrea Kasiske.

“All that they take, colour, form, shape, and they process it in some way, that is real, and in the moment, and it translates in an Alzheimer person’s brain to have some meaning. The creative arts are an avenue to tap into a non verbal emotional place in a person. When they are given paint, markers, any kind of medium for art making and their hands are involved, and their muscles are involved, things are tapped in them that are genuine, and active and alive, so the creative arts bypass the limitations and they simply go to the strengths. People still have imaginations intact all the way to the very, very end of their progressive disease.” – Judy Holstein – Director CJE Senior Life Day Service Chicago from the film I Remember Better When I Paint

The Art of Touch

The Art of Touch

An exciting, innovative new art resource for people in the later stages of dementia or with more severe learning disabilities, has recently been developed by Leicestershire’s Open Museum….
“The touch senses remain the strongest stimulus after hearing and sight has deteriorated, and people with dementia are drawn to things they can find tangible through touch – in many cases finding comfort in the sensations felt through the finger tips.”

I Remember Better When I Paint

“This informative documentary offers pivotal new insights into the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease through creative arts. Leading international neurologists share findings which support the transformative power of drawing, painting, music and museum visits, illustrating how the parts of the brain related to emotions and creativity are largely spared by the disease, and therefore dramatically changing the way we look at Alzheimer’s and related disorders. The film shows how creative workshops are being embraced as exciting and effective therapy methods in several countries worldwide, opening doors of communication between those living with the disease and their caregivers and families.”