Art viewing can be a very enjoyable and stimulating activity for dementia patients and their families alike.

After all, just because someone has been diagnosed with a dementia disease does not mean they have lost their senses entirely. But it might mean that it takes a little more time to grasp things. 

  • Instead of taking in all the paintings in a museum, for example, you may perhaps only have time for one room.
  • Focus on just a few paintings.
  • Talk about the paintings. What do you see? What is happening here and now?
  • Stay with one painting/piece of art for fifteen, twenty minutes.
  • Take your time! Discuss what you see. 

Inspired by the Meet Me project at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, many countries have followed suit. Various museums around the world have created their own “dementia tours” with trained staff that guide small groups of dementia patients and their relatives.  

It is important for dementia patients, too, to feel mentally and intellectually stimulated. Going around a museum together could create that feeling, but also create a sense of security that comes from being with a close family member in a stimulating environment. 

The aim with a museum visit:

  • Discover and exchange views and ideas about the art and the artist.
  • Experience the intellectual stimulation.
  • Create a link with personal stories and memories, and world events.
  • Find out more about each other.
  • Give the person room to grow as a person.

 Stages in a museum visit:

  • Observe the art.
  • Describe the art.
  • Interpret the art.
  • Connect with the art.
  • Discuss.
  • Summarise.

Do not forget to maintain eye contact with each other while you are talking and explaining things. Pick up on the body language of your relative with dementia so that you can read the situation. Clarify various key words while you are talking to make the conversation clearer. By all means point to what you are discussing, or provide illustrations. 

You do not need to go to a museum to experience art. Talk about the paintings in your relative’s home! Perhaps there is an exciting story behind the very work of art or painting? 

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