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Various art programs are available for people with dementia. These have been shown to contribute to the patient’s quality of life. But are all types of art suitable for this purpose and for the target group? This study investigated whether responsiveness during museum programs depends on the type of art work shown and/or characteristics of the person with dementia, such as severity of dementia or specific cognitive impairments.
A cross-sectional observational study was conducted in which the responsiveness of people with dementia to different types of art was investigated as part of a study into the implementation of the Unforgettable program, an interactive guided museum tour program in Dutch museums for people with dementia.
The appreciative and active responsiveness and interaction with others during the program appeared related to the severity of dementia, to specific cognitive impairments, and to type of artworks. People with more severe dementia responded less to art than people with mild dementia. Artworks with more natural elements revealed less interaction with others. Artifacts (i.e., objects not originally meant as artworks) evoked more reactions than artworks.
The study results are important to take into account when designing and offering art programs for people with dementia. Knowing which type of art works appeals most to (subgroups of) people with dementia will contribute to the optimization of art programs for this target group and to their active participation in such programs.
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