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App designed to foster interaction between adults with dementia, caregivers

August 27, 2013
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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A new iPad app uses art to encourage conversations between seniors with early to mid-stage dementia and their family and friends.

Observing, talking about and creating art is an alternative way for older adults with cognitive disabilities to communicate and reflect on their life experiences while enjoying themselves in the present, according to the Art Institute of Chicago and CJE Senior Life, which collaborated to create the app.

Users of the “Art in the Moment” app use an iPad to view images of select pieces of the Chicago Institute of Art’s collections. Audible and visible questions on the screen are designed to stimulate the mind and prompt discussion, and users are encouraged to engage in art-making activities on their own.

Works are arranged by themes. For instance, pieces under the “celebrations” theme, the first to be released for the app, depict public gatherings, spontaneous private celebrations and other festivities. Additional modules will explore themes such as rhythm and art, modern portraits, Jewish artists and the American environment.

The app, funded by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, is based on the live Art in the Moment program held at the museum. Although the app is designed for those with dementia and their caregivers, others may enjoy using it as well, the creators say.

CJE Senior Life, formerly the Council for Jewish Elderly, serves 19,000 older adults and their families through independent housing, assisted living, long- and short-term skilled nursing care, adult day services, geriatric care management, home-delivered meals, transportation, health and wellness activities, support groups for clients and caregivers, and lifelong learning opportunities in the Chicago area.

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