Number 43 in our countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' highlights how art can improve attention, communication and memory for people living with dementia...

Last year’s Creative Health report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing advised that 'while cognitive stimulation therapy may make a statistically significant difference, creative activities make an existentially significant difference to the lives of people with dementia and their carers'.

A study of post-retirement adults in 2014 found that participants who actively produced art over a 10-week period showed greater functional connectivity in the brain.

Residents and staff at Woodland Grove care home taking part in a Paintings in Hospitals art workshop

A 2016 review into community-based literary, performing and visual arts for people with dementia (co-authored by our trustee, Professor Victoria Tischler) showed that:

arts-based activities had a positive impact on cognitive processes, in particular on attention, stimulation of memories, enhanced communication and engagement with creative activities’.

But while arts attendance and art-making were found to improve memory, the difference made by the sessions on participants’ mood and confidence were seen as just as vital.

At Paintings in Hospitals, our work with older people and people with dementia often revolves around reminiscence. This means using objects and artworks to focus on the stimulation of memories. Our Beside the Sea touring project in 2016 featured artworks from the Ingram Collection that evoked memories of the seaside. We also used real shells and sand as tactile objects for older people participating in our drawing workshops.

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