Art museums and universities offer classes, activities and programs for people living with dementia. These events give these people mind stimulation and a sense of inclusion. Not only do these events help in a theoretical sense, but science actually agrees with these methods as a way to give people living with dementia a helping hand. In a new study by researchers from the University of Canberra, these programs actually do help people with dementia, as Hyperallergic details:
in a study that monitored 28 participants of the NGA’s Art and Dementia program before, during, and after the program. During that period, saliva samples were collected from participants to determine levels of cortisol, best known as the “stress hormone,” which plays an important role in dementia symptoms.
Elevated cortisol levels are associated with greater cognitive impairment, brain shrinkage, and a more rapid decline in cognitive function. According to the study, normal cortisol levels are usually high upon waking, then decrease during the day and drop significantly at bedtime. But in people living with dementia, this rhythm is disrupted, causing increased frailty, stress, agitation, and decreased cognitive performance.
“After the six-week intervention, we found the rhythm of salivary cortisol across the day to be improved,” D’Cunha told Hyperallergic in an email interview. “We also found the intervention improved some aspects of well-being. We think if both these physiological and psychological benefits could be sustained for long periods, it could help to improve quality of life.”
image credit: via Hyperallergic