Dramatherapy lends itself seamlessly to a person-centred approach, particularly
important for elderly people who are nearing the end of their lives.
The dramatherapy group affords a holding environment where existential
issues and key life questions can be worked with creatively. Although their
expression may sometimes seem chaotic (as in dementia), elderly people are
often the guardians or holders of much end-of-life wisdom. By means of
story, metaphor, play and improvisation, cultural questions and answers can
assist with celebration, reminiscence, pleasure and grieving, and ultimately
the transition to a dignified and spiritually meaningful death. In this way, the
spirituality of the person with dementia can be explored and accepted.
Spirituality has informed theatre and drama throughout history, and the
healing properties of the arts are referred to in the histories of many societies.
In contemporary western culture, especially that of the last 50 years, there has
been a growth of consciousness that creative activity can contribute to people’s
health and well-being and that the area of spirituality is integral, and perhaps
even central, to psycho-social health and a sense of well-being.
In this paper, selected dramatherapy literature is reviewed, that supports the
contention that the practice of these therapies is an effective means of assisting
elderly people afflicted with moderate-to-severe dementia to value their
ageing process. Arts therapies may assist them to cope with the grief and loss
their ageing may entail, as they lose friends and physical and mental capacity,
in a society where elderly people are marginalised.
Case studies and theoretical examples are presented to show how group
work can be structured so that issues of elderly people with dementia can be
addressed in a creative way.
To read the full detailed paper (13 pages), follow the link below.
Source: Jaaniste, Joanna(2011) ‘Dramatherapy and spirituality in dementia care’, Dramatherapy, 33: 1, 16 — 27. Click here to see the original article in PDF format.