Is Art Therapy the Answer for Dementia?

Making music, painting, or dancing — and seeing or hearing it — may be the most effective treatment for dementia to date.

Carla shook a tambourine, while Dorothy played the xylophone and Leni tapped her palms gently on an African drum. Vivian declined an instrument, but shimmied her shoulders when the music moved her.

Their walkers stood ready and their voices were wispy with age, but the eight group members sang with purpose, remembering every word of the Doris Day classic without prompting.

“We were sailing along, on Moonlight Bay. We could hear the voices ringing . . .,” they sang.

When they had finished “love’s old sweet song” and given themselves a round of applause, Clara proclaimed the group “ready for Symphony Hall.”

This music class at Hebrew Senior Life’s NewBridge on the Charles campus is what today’s cutting-edge Alzheimer’s treatment looks like.

Medications can’t stop the disease’s inexorable damage to the mind, and stress and agitation often remain challenging despite drug treatment. But a growing number of Alzheimer’s institutions and caregivers are realizing that a musical walk down memory lane — a dance class, storytelling session, art project, or museum tour — can do more than offer pleasant diversions. They can improve a number of disease symptoms as well as quality of life.

Source: Boston Globe. Click here to see the original article.

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