The following article was sent out in the Alzheimer's Association's Newsletter recently. It is very significant considering the work being done through arts: painting, music, dancing even poetry! The arts bolster a sense of well-being, lighten moods, reduce stress and agitation (for all of us). I'm sure you can imagine that those suffering from memory impairment diseases are in a constant state of fear. Little by little we can give each one comfort and loving care. I am so very grateful to have the opportunity to work with these folks.
I am jazzed to read about Gary Glazner's work with poetry in Northern California as a possibility for my dear mother-in-law, who by the way is doing wonderfully well attending activities at a local Day Care facility - making friends and so happy!!
As rock-and-roll fills a sunny recreation room at Birmingham Green in Manassas, residents of the assisted-living facility seem swept up in the music as if by a powerful wind. Brett, 52, belts out the lyrics of a Beatles tune while dancing in place with all the vigor of a middle-aged Mick Jagger. John 64, rises to his feet in dance. Up front, Norma 85, a former department store clerk whose eyes are glued to a TV screen showing the lyrics for “Hey Jude,” sings into a microphone, not always in sync with the words but joyfully all the same. Even those whose thoughts appear far away sometimes sway or tap their fingers in time to the beat.
The karaoke session is a popular draw at the facility. But music, art and dance sessions like these are also the subject of intensifying interest among the scientific community. As the nation’s median age rises and baby boomers retire, the federal government, universities and health-care institutions are seeking to determine whether the arts have a quantifiably therapeutic effect on people with Alzheimer’s disease or other age-related disabilities. Many researchers agree evidence seems promising that the arts can improve cognitive function and memory, bolster a person’s mood and sense of well-being, and reduce stress, agitation and aggression.
In a paper titled “Shall I Compare Thee to a Dose of Donepezil,” researchers Kate de Medeiros and Anne Basting called for developing research models that would better suit interventions that involve the imagination and meaningful personal experiences, instead of those that have been used to test clinical efficacy of pharmaceuticals. “I think these are the so-called intangibles that we as a society have tended to underplay,” Iyengar said. “These are really devastating diseases for these people and their families, and anything you can do to reduce that pain is important.”
“But outside of these things is sheer joy,” said Gary Glazner, founder and executive director of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. Glazner said he was working at an adult day-care center in Northern California and searching for ways to connect with people with Alzheimer’s disease when he discovered the power of poetry to reach people with cognitive impairment. Having studied poetry in college, Glazner shared Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Arrow and The Song” with a resident and from the first line — “I shot an arrow” — hit the mark. Glazner uses poetry, particularly beloved classics learned by older adults, in call-and-response with older people and guides them in writing poems. Jump-rope rhymes, even military cadences, can evoke responses from people with cognitive impairment that engage them, he said.
Read the full article at - http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/studies-aims-to-quantify-how-the-arts-can-help-the-elderly-and-cognitively-disabled
Alzheimer's Assoc Newsletter signup: http://www.alz.org/apps/email_signup.asp