Museum objects, aesthetic stimulation and psychological wellbeing in early to middle stages of dementia

Camic, Paul M. and Hulbert, S. (2016) Museum objects, aesthetic stimulation and psychological wellbeing in early to middle stages of dementia. In: International Association for Empirical Aesthetics Conference, 29 August-1 September, University of Vienna.

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Neuropsychological evidence proposes that touch, a key sense that becomes more important as people age, may invoke a sense of wellbeing through being linked to emotional and motivational systems in the brain. The present study examined the impact of handling museum objects in small groups of participants with dementia (Alzheimer’s (n = 37), vascular (n = 24), frontotemporal (n = 4), mixed-types (n = 13) and HIV-related (n = 2)). The main research question enquired if handling museum objects could enhance wellness, happiness, interestedness, confidence and optimism. Sub-questions investigated the role of aesthetic experience on object handling and sought to understand the relationship between aesthetic experience and wellbeing at 2 different dementia stages. Eighty participants (53 males) (range 54 - 89 years, M = 74.81) took part. Measures: pre post administration of the Canterbury Wellbeing Scales and audio-recorded sessions, the latter subject to content analysis. Parametric tests showed significant improvement in overall wellbeing (t(76) = -9.79, p <.001 d = .77). Participants reported higher levels of wellbeing at Time2 (M = 405.68; S.D. = 76.25) than at Time1 (M = 347.86; S.D. = 74.62). Differences in wellbeing were also demonstrated by testing the effects of gender and dementia stage in a 2 x 2 x 2 mixed-design ANOVA. Content analysis revealed aesthetically ‘unpleasing’ objects produced as many verbally fluid responses as those considered ‘pleasing’. The results confirm that brief interactions with museum objects can impact wellbeing and challenges the common conception that reminiscence-focused activities, rather than those that consider aesthetic experience, should be the norm for art-based dementia activities.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: dementia, wellbeing, visual analogue scales, emotion, cognition
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0176 Psychological tests and testing
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts > N0400 Art museums, galleries, etc.
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0435 Psychiatry > RC0512 Psychopathology. Mental disorders > RC0521 Dementia
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Prof Paul M Camic
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2016 14:52
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2016 14:52

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00