A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Evaluation of the ARTmail Senior Art Project Among Seniors with Cognitive Limitations in North Carolina

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
S. Sudha, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Participating in structured art programs is said to improve physical and mental health and social functioning of older adults including those with dementia. However, research on this subject is fairly new, and awareness of these programs is limited. Feedback for improved program design and delivery is also needed. In a partnership between UNC Greensboro and the Creative Aging Network, NC, we conducted a pilot project in North Carolina (USA) in 2011 to evaluate whether participating in a 10 week art exchange project called ARTmail improved mood and social connectedness among seniors. Although 60 seniors took part in the ARTmail program, most of them with a cognitive limitation, only 31 seniors took part in the evaluation, mostly because the legal representative of many cognitively limited seniors did not give permission for them to participate in the evaluation. We collected baseline and endline information on socio-demographic background, physical health, functional status; and depression, loneliness, and mood / connectedness scales appropriate for dementia and non–dementia groups. We also conducted qualitative interviews with selected site staff, volunteers, and participants, and performed field observations. Our findings suggested that among seniors with cognitive limitations, the mean of mood scores at endline was lower than at baseline, suggesting improved mood (approaching significance at the .10 level). A larger sample would likely have shown significant results. We conclude with a discussion of observations and suggestions from staff, volunteers, and participants, on experiences with the program and suggestions for improved implementation in future.

Additional Information

International Public Health Journal 5(3), 349-359
Language: English
Date: 2013
Older adults, dementia, ARTmail evaluation, positive aging development, structured arts program

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