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Carnegie Museum of Art offers dementia patients and caregivers joy and respite

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"In the Moment" is a new program being developed by Carnegie Museum of Art to help Alzheimer's and other dementia patients, and the nursing staff and loved ones who care for them, share the pleasures and meaning of art.

"They leave the disease behind," during a museum tour, says Mary Ann Perkins, the museum's docent program coordinator. "They're getting out of the normal, day in, day out routine, and they come into a space full of art, calmness and beauty."

The museum is hosting a morning workshop on Dec. 6 designed for health professionals, researchers and museum staff to learn about the therapeutic effects of such an experience. It includes speakers from the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, The Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at The University of Pittsburgh, and the Alzheimer's Project at The Museum of Modern Art, which has already developed a tour for people with dementia and their caregivers.

The public workshop in the afternoon, which costs $10 and is limited to 40 registrants, includes lunch and demonstrations of the MoMA Alzheimer's Project.

Carnegie staff members have been working with Woodside Place, a Presbyterian Senior Care facility in Oakmont, to develop "In the Moment," and will be expanding the tours to those outside residential facilities in May 2011.

While it's true that patients may not remember the tour later, Perkins allows, the experience still has a demonstrably positive effect.

"We have had testimony from one of our Senior Care staff workers," Perkins says. "After the tour, the residents will go back to the facility and have a better afternoon, or a better day tomorrow."

To register, call 412.622.3288 or click here.

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Mary Ann Perkins, Carnegie Museum of Art
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