The guide tells me that the choice of artwork is important; visual or pictorial paintings, anything around which a narrative can be developed, are preferred over conceptual art, which can be confusing and subjective. Studies have shown that in the middle to later stages of dementia, imagination is stronger than memory; encouraging dementia sufferers to observe a work of art and develop their own personal narrative about it is a way of allowing them to use those cognitive capabilities they still possess. More importantly, at least in my opinion, it encourages a feeling of continued connection with the world, with beauty and culture, and with others.
These programs serve an important dual purpose in that they foster engagement and self-discovery for dementia sufferers and their caregivers, while at the same time providing an enjoyable activity that can be done together. I remember trying to think of activities I could do with Dad that we would both enjoy and that would get us out of the house. It was hard for me not to feel bored and isolated and I imagine he felt that way, too. We did have several things that we did and enjoyed, including going out to lunch and to the Museum of Flight, but I could have used a lot more.