As the population age increases, and Alzheimer's disease death rates increase, the need for dementia prevention therapies grows in relevance and necessity. A cooperative model for teaching Conceptual art to older adults is proposed as a dementia prevention strategy. Preventive benefits of the proposed strategy are preliminarily suggested to improve: l) cognitive reserve (CR), where a strong CR has been associated with longer lasting functionality in dementia patients; 2) cognitive lifestyle, a behavioral measure of CR; and 3) neuroplasticity, with promoting neuroplasticity being the goal of many non-pharmacological dementia prevention studies. Texts on art therapy, Conceptual art, social practice, neuroplasticity, brain reserves, aging, and dementia were analyzed. The research showed that CR is difficult to assess; but it is linked to cognitive lifestyle, which is measured by the Lifetime of Experience Questionnaire (LEQ). High LEQ scores indicate a more cognitive lifestyle and correlate with reduced dementia risk. Since Conceptual art encompasses cognitively challenging tasks, it could be used as a part of a cognitive lifestyle to reduce dementia risk. The cooperative model of participatory art facilitates Conceptual art in group therapy by encouraging interpersonal discourse, for a combination of social and cognitive enrichment, which has been linked to positive health outcomes, specifically lowered dementia risk. This research is limited by the lack of studies on using art therapy for dementia prevention. The hypothesis could be fully realized by conducting a comparative longitudinal study measuring the cognitive capabilities of older adults engaged in conceptual-participatory art therapy, versus other cognitive therapy, versus no therapy.
"Participatory Art and Aging: Proposal for Dementia Prevention Strategy,"
Augsburg Honors Review: Vol. 9
, Article 2.
Available at: https://idun.augsburg.edu/honors_review/vol9/iss1/2