Art and Aging: Digital Projects for People With Dementia

This service-learning assignment provides students with first-hand experience seeing the positive effects of art, nature, and music on the well-being of individuals diagnosed with dementia. Students begin by attending lectures that cover Alzheimer's disease, dementia, aging, and the restorative effects of art and nature on afflicted individuals. Groups of three students are then paired with an elderly couple, one member of whom has dementia, to create multimedia digital projects (e.g., online scrapbooks, interactive DVDs) involving experiences with art or nature tailored to the needs of their specific couple. Students meet weekly with their assigned couple to discuss the family's interests and goals for the project and to obtain feedback on the evolution and impact of their project on the family's well-being. Finally, students give a class presentation describing their project, the feedback received from their family over the semester, and their overall impressions. Through this field experience, students go beyond traditional lecture learning and develop a customized project that promotes the well-being of someone experiencing dementia.

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