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New program designed to help those with dementia explore their artistic talents

The Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County will be offering Creative Connections, which will begin on March 2
senior with headphones
Supplied photo

NEWS RELEASE
ALZHEIMER SOCIETY OF SIMCOE COUNTY
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It is not easy for a family to talk about their journey with dementia because of the stigma around the disease. Staying silent when over 10,000 residents of Simcoe County are living with dementia will soon be as impossible for society as it has now become for Tony Bennett's family as reported on AARP.

His journey with the disease is an inspiring one, “another gift he can give to the world,” says Lady Gaga in the story on AARP about Mr. Bennett’s diagnosis.

That he has maintained such a good quality of life since his diagnosis is credited in part to his music and the role it plays in his life. The Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County (ASSC) is leading the way with music and art therapy programs for people living with dementia in this community.

ASSC is currently offering two programs that are music based, and is very pleased to announce the addition of Creative Connections, a new program beginning March 2 in partnership with Quest Art School & Gallery. Creative Connections will provide people with dementia the opportunity to explore their artistic talent using a variety of art forms including painting, crafting and reflective journaling.

“Quest Art believes strongly in the power of art as a means of creating connections and we are very happy to be partnering with ASSC to provide this program, especially at a time when many people are dealing with isolation," says Victoria Eichorn, Executive Director and Curator, Quest Art.

"Quest Art advocates for the many benefits that art provides for individuals spanning all ages and abilities. We recognize the significance of art as an important means of social engagement and connection, providing benefits that affect individuals mentally, emotionally and physically,” says Eichhorn.

Creative connections begins March 2, for registration please contact Taryl Bougie at taryl.bougie@alzheimersociety.ca

The Alzheimer Society Music Project reconnects people with the soundtrack of their lives by providing music players loaded with personalized music to people living with dementia. Listening to personalized music can be a powerful activity for those with dementia: music has the potential to increase physical and social activity; reignite older memories; and improve sleep, mood, cognition, communication, and overall quality of life. Visit musicproject.ca to apply.

Musical Memories provides online music sessions for people living with dementia and their care partners. This program is offered in partnership with Music Therapy Services of Simcoe County where participants receive a small percussive instrument to use while playing music with friends, family and care partners. 

Heidi Flynn, Owner/Director of MTSSC says “We are so happy to be partnering with the Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County to connect seniors in our community with music. These online group sessions have offered participants the opportunity to express themselves, engage with others socially and experience feelings of wellness.” Sessions will run through March 24. For more information and registration please contact Taryl Bougie at 705-795-6259 or email taryl.bougie@alzheimer.ca.

“The Musical Memories program fills up very quickly and we expect the same for Creative Connections. Music and Art programs provide opportunities for people living with dementia to connect with others and express themselves. During a time when contact with others is limited, these types of programs can help to enrich their lives, boost mood and self-esteem,” says Laura-Lynn Bourassa, Manager of Education and Support Programs, ASSC.

“Many of our clients say that our Music Project and the Musical Memories program provide peace and calm while navigating the symptoms of dementia,” says Bourassa.

All programs offered by the Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County are free of charge with a wide range of services being offered to people living with dementia, their care partners, friends and families and the community at large. Since the beginning of the pandemic in person programs have successfully transitioned to online sessions.

In Canada, in 15 short years from now, nearly one million of our mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles will be living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. That’s a million stories we need to change.

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 people living with dementia in Simcoe County, and more than 20,000 others who are affected directly or indirectly by the disease. Projections show that almost 21,000 persons will be living with dementia in Simcoe County by 2036.

About ASSC: The Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County (ASSC) has been serving this region since 1985 to ensure people living with dementia get the care and services they need to improve their quality of life. ASSC is one of 29 local Alzheimer Societies in Ontario providing support services, education, public awareness, and social recreational programs to persons living with dementia, their care partners, families, and the public at large. For more information please visit alzheimersimcoecounty.ca or by calling 705-722-1066.

About Quest Art: For over 25 years, Quest Art School + Gallery has been committed to bringing arts and culture to the North Simcoe Community. This has been done through exhibitions, art classes and workshops for people of all ages. Our classes offer the chance to develop creativity, expression and companionship with others. Art’s development is deeply rooted in the belief that arts education plays a significant role in helping us create a better society and community. For more information please visit questart.ca or by calling 705-526-2787.

About Music Therapy Services of Simcoe County: Founded in 2001 by Heidi Flynn, RP, MTA. Music therapy is a clinical intervention provided by a certified therapist. This means that it is more than just putting on a favourite CD or attending a live performance; it is an individualized, interactive, and goal driven intervention. Goals can focus on developmental or rehabilitative areas such as communication or social skills, physical coordination, or sensory integrations, and for other goals focused on supporting mental health and emotional wellbeing. For more information please visit musictherapybarrie.ca or by calling 705-503-4804.

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