Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are a growing issue in the United States. While medical experts try to develop treatments or a cure, what are we as a society to do in the meantime to help those living with Alzheimer's? The arts seem to be an answer. In this thesis, I highlight numerous programs already in place across the United States that utilize the visual, musical, and dramatic arts to give people with Alzheimer's an avenue for expression, a connection to the world around them, as well as a better quality of life. I address the largely positive impact these arts engagement programs have on caregivers and their perceptions of their loved ones. I discuss what it means to have narrative identity and personhood in the midst of a disease that appears to strip those things away. Finally, I share my own experiences creatively engaging with residents at a local memory care facility and what those experiences demonstrated with regard to narrative, being, and Self. The examination of material and experiences demonstrates that art taps into innate parts of human beings that science is unable to touch or treat; however, the reverse is also true for science. When faced with an issue as complex as Alzheimer's disease, art and science are strongest together, and I believe the cure to Alzheimer's lies in this unity. In the meantime, we must utilize the arts to validate the Selves of and improve the quality of life for our growing Alzheimer's population.
- Rewriting the Narrative: A Discussion of Alzheimer's, the Arts, and Identity
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