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Tennessee art museum offers tours, art therapy for people living with dementia

Alzheimer's Association
Posted at 11:09 AM, Jun 30, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An art museum in Tennessee has partnered with the Alzheimer's Association to provide people living with dementia and their care partners to experience art together.

When health is only getting worse for the people we love most, caregiving can be an overwhelming job. There are places looking to give something to those caring families.

Something Judith Plummer loves to share is that she has a great mom.

"My mom's name is Jane Smith," she smiled. "She worked until age 70 as a child care center director here in Nashville where she did art and especially music. She's always been involved in the creative arts."

In fact, when Judith was a little girl, Jane took her everywhere. There were trips to the old Children's Museum, to the Hermitage, to the state capital.

"I was three years old and got to sit in the governor's chair!" Judith laughed.

"I noticed she was going downhill and having cognitive deficits," Judith continued, referring to her mother. "Then, in the last few years, it's been much more pronounced."

Jane has a form of dementia.

In just the way her great mom took Judith everywhere, Judith is now returning the favor.

The Frist Art Museum is partnered with the Alzheimer's Association to offer people living with dementia and their care partners free tours of an exhibit.

Anne Henderson of the Frist said this happens quarterly throughout the year in what's called the Making Memories program.

"It's about offering stimulation to people who have dementia of some form," she said. "The opportunity to come to the Frist is to have that exposure to go back to what memories people with dementia may have. Works of art can help create those connections. They might remember a sound. They might remember a story or connect with a story."

Included in this are art and music therapy. People make art while listening to music.

"Both the caregiver and the person doing the care can become so isolated, especially when dementia and Alzheimer's are involved," said Judith. "I make sure she gets art enrichment, and music therapy."

To see her mom making art again, to be around others making art, means a lot to Judith.

"She always had these interests all her life, and now they're being presented to her in a way someone with dementia can absorb and appreciate," said Judith.

She said a day like this is another 'thank you' to someone she'll forever know as a great mom.

For more on the Making Memories program, visit here.

Forrest Sanders at WTVF first reported this story.