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As Director of the Betty Ehart Senior Center and as a music therapist, Pauline Schneider sees both the difficulties dementia sufferers and their caregivers face daily and also how music and the arts can help people connect and enjoy the arts’ effects.
“I have worked with people in all phases of dementia and even those who seem to have stopped relating to the world around them, remarkably respond to music. One person, who hadn’t spoken for quite some time, began to sing along with a familiar tune from decades ago and knew all the words, stayed on key and stayed focused until it was over,” Schneider said.
She invited Mary Yamada of the Los Alamos Retirement Community, who has worked with people with dementia for 15 years and Carol Meine of Mesa Public Library arts programming, to get together and create a pilot program for people with dementia and their caregivers to meet in a non-clinical setting to enjoy the arts together.
The program was inspired by one in New York called Meet Me at MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art, in which selected art works on a particular theme are presented, with attendees guided in discussion about what they see and what the images evoke in the moment and from their memories. They are also, in keeping with the particular emphasis of the day, invited to make art, write poetry and chat with others.
This new program in Los Alamos will explore art, music and poetry and the first will feature local musicians, art related to music and poetry inspired by both. It is interactive and participation by everyone is encouraged. Those interested in attending Meet Me at Mesa should contact Schneider at 662-8920 to sign up, since space is limited to a total of 20 — 10 people in any stage of dementia and their 10 caregivers, with a minimum of five each. This is not a drop-off program, but one designed to encourage enjoyment of the arts by both those with dementia and their supporters in an informal and relaxed setting.
So far, two programs are planned, one on Saturday and one on Dec. 1, from 9:30-11 a.m., upstairs at Mesa Public Library.
Each session will include visual arts, music and poetry experiences and will encourage creativity in the group and ideas to try at home.
Los Alamos Retirement Community, Mesa Public Library and the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization sponsor the program.
For more information about these and ongoing programs, visit losalamosnm.us/library, call 662-8240, 662-8253 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details about the MOMA program visit moma.org/meetme/.
Read some testimonials at moma.org/meetme.perspectives/ index.