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Getting seniors programming down to a fine art

Exploring and developing ways to help seniors live fully every day often comes in the form of partnerships with other organizations.

art tour in AGOThe Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) needs no introduction, but their Art in the Moment tours is something most people have never heard of before. Fortunately for the residents of Deerwood Creek Care Community, their recreation therapist had.

Having an opportunity to appreciate and engage with art in the later stages of life is something the AGO is encouraging through their 3-year pilot initiative. It is designed to help people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias relate to art, and have meaningful conversations around art to enhance their quality of life.

Melissa Smith is a gallery guide and adult education officer at the AGO, and coordinates the Art in the Moment tours with the Toronto Alzheimer’s Society. The program was adopted in 2008 to provide free gallery visits for people with dementia, as well as companions who accompany them. Tours typically last an hour and contain an inclusive discussion.

“Support workers and participants enjoy the opportunity to have a discussion that does not revolve around health,” said Melissa. “This does wonders for their relationships, and we have noticed how participants open up and often remember stories that no one has heard before.”

Deerwood’s recreation therapist Nyema Ahmed worked closely with Melissa to plan a trip for residents. This involved taking seven residents, four team members and one volunteer to downtown Toronto for the tour.

“The trip was a lot of fun and an amazing experience because it allowed residents to enjoy a visit to the gallery that they wouldn't otherwise have been able to do,” said Nyema. “This is a unique outing that we hope to revisit again in the future.”
 
Activation aide Caitlin Bowes also attended the outing, and was impressed with how the Gallery makes art accessible for everyone. “The Art in the Moment tours is an innovative program that allows art lovers to engage in their passion despite their health limitations," she said.  
 

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