- With Mayo Clinic health education outreach coordinator
Angela Lunderead biographyclose window
Angela LundeAngela LundeAngela Lunde is a dementia education specialist in the education core of Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Abigail Van Buren Alzheimer's Disease Research Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The transfer of information about dementias, as well as understanding the need for participation in clinical trials, is an essential component of the education core.
Angela is a member of the Alzheimer's Association board of directors and co-chair of the annual Minnesota Dementia Conference. She is a member of the Dementia Behavior Assessment and Response Team (D-BART), a multidisciplinary outreach service assisting professional and family caregivers in understanding and managing difficult behaviors often present in dementia. She facilitates several support groups, including Memory Club, an early-stage education and support series, and more recently, helped to develop and now deliver Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking (HABIT), a 10-day cognitive rehab and wellness program for people with mild cognitive impairment.
Angela takes a personal interest in understanding the complex changes that take place within relationships and among families when dementia is present. She is particularly interested in providing innovative and accessible ways for people with dementia and their families to receive information and participate in valuable programs that promote well-being.
"Amid a devastating disease, there are tools, therapies, programs and ways to cope, and it is vital that families are connected to these resources," she says.
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Aug. 6, 2013
Alzheimer's stops where creativity begins
By Angela Lunde
I am pleased to see the recent dialogue regarding complementary practices to improve the life of those living with dementia, as well as those who love and care for them. These practices and therapies include such things as aromatherapy, meditation, exercise, yoga, nutrition, acupuncture, as well as the creative arts — drawing, painting, pottery, music, art history, creative writing, storytelling, poetry, dance and movement, drama, and musical theatre, to name only some.
The late Gene D. Cohen, M.D., devoted much of the last decade and a half of his life to exploring the relationship between aging and creativity, helping us understand and believe that even when memory is diminishing, the capacity for imagination is still there.
Bruce L. Miller, M.D., Professor of Neurology at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Clinical Director of Aging and Dementia, has also been instrumental in shedding light on how creativity can be an important outlet for people living with dementia. His work and research acknowledge that creativity is an area of strength spared by the disease, and that for some persons with dementia their creative ability is even enhanced.
Sara Tucker, M.A, an art therapist and early stage services manager for the Minnesota-North Dakota Alzheimer's Association, says art stirs us in many ways. It has the ability to alter the mind, affect our behavior, emotions and our relationships with others. Art fosters health, communication and expression to promote the integration of physical, emotional, cognitive and social functioning. For people living with Alzheimer's disease, this truly is important.
As an art therapist, Tucker knows firsthand what the arts can do for those living with Alzheimer's disease. She says, "I have seen people greatly benefit by actively engaging in the arts, both viewing and creating. I witnessed a group of women who created and shared their stories about getting older and living with this disease improve their self-image as part of the process of creating and storytelling."
A growing body of evidence is supporting much of Tucker's work and passion. A study from New York University and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) evaluated a program called "Meet Me at MOMA" to assess how viewing and engaging in artwork effects people with early-stage dementia. The results revealed fewer emotional problems during the week following a visit to the museum program, along with elevations in mood, an increase in social support, and elevated self-esteem.
Karen Weintraub wrote an article for the Boston Globe entitled," Is Art Therapy the Answer for Dementia?" In it, Weintraub notes that medications can't stop the disease's inexorable damage to the mind, but a musical walk down memory lane, a dance class, storytelling session, art project, or museum tour, can do more than offer pleasant diversion, they can improve a number of disease symptoms as well. Alzheimer's care sometimes focuses on what someone isn't doing and tries to fix it. The arts model looks at what they are doing and tries to build on that ability.
Creative expression is both healing and whole-making. An exceptional program called the ARTZ embraces the wholeness that is inherent in each person, regardless of a diagnosis. It believes that access to creative expression is essential to our human experience and is not lost in persons living with Alzheimer's.
The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging, and to developing programs that build on this understanding. NCCA has launched the first of its kind directory of creative programs, including those that are specific to people living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. You can find this directory by searching Directory of Creative Aging Programs in America.
"I do not know what is going on, but it seems Alzheimer's stops where creativity begins."
-Person living with Alzheimer's disease after creating art
A heartfelt thank you to Sara Tucker for her contribution and inspiration for this article.blog index
- ARTZ. Artists for Alzheimers. www.artistsforalzheimers.org Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Directory of Creative Aging Programs in America. National Center for Creative Aging. http://www.creativeaging.org/programs-people/cad. Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Research and development. Meet Me. The MoMA Alzheimer's Project: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia. Museum of Modern Art. http://www.moma.org/meetme/resources/#evaluation.Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Weintraub K. Is art therapy the answer for dementia? Boston Globe. http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2012/11/27/art-therapy-may-most-effective-treatment-for-dementia/gzKnW8AknOVkMxjAZs7LMN/story.html. Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Gene D. Cohen, Geriatric Psychiatrist, Dies at 65. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/us/12cohen.html?_r=0. Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Bruce L. Miller, M.D. University of California, San Francisco. http://profiles.ucsf.edu/bruce.miller. Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Tucker S (expert opinion). Alzheimer's Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter, Minneapolis, Minn. Aug. 5, 2013.