Engaging people living with dementia and cognitive impairment through the arts

Evidence

An elderly man painting
“An increasing amount of research supports the notion that the arts can benefit everyone living with dementia, whether they have the condition themselves or are supporting someone who does. Also, there is evidence that patients who have been referred to an artist rather than prescribed, for example, antidepressants, taken over time, are making 37% less demands for visits to their GP and 27% less hospital admissions. I would love to see an artist in residence, for instance, in every care home or in every health department in every hospital. I think if some of the budgets that are given over to pharmaceuticals and pharmacies, even half a percent of that budget was given over to a creative budget, I think you would see an incredible impact on not just people living with dementia but the staff as well, because well-being is really important in the social care sector and in the health care sector.” Edward Bullmore, The Guardian

In 2012 Arts 4 Dementia conducted an evaluation of the London Arts Challenge, seventeen interventions that re-energised people living and caring for those with dementia. Their executive summary was:

  • 99% felt more fulfilled through their creative achievement
  • 99% planned to develop their art, as this enriched their lives
  • 97% recognised creative activity overrides memory worries
  • 89% claimed to feel more confident
  • 84% recognised that they had learned new skills
  • 75% felt more energetic
  • 75% keener to socialise

You can read the full evaluation of the London Arts Challenge here.

An elderly man painting