Saturday, July 24, 2010

Can Older Adults With Dementia Enjoy Life? (Research, Arts Video 3:04 mins.)

I have a friend whose mother has Alzheimer's disease. He and his father are her primary caregivers at home. He says that people generally feel sorry for them. When his mother’s name comes up in conversations, the tone changes to one of sadness. They also assume that his mother must be an unhappy person because of her mentally impaired condition. The other day, I smiled at his response when I asked him how she was doing. He said, “Mama is doing just fine. Pops and I focus on keeping her healthy and active. Most of the time, she is as happy as she can be.”

A research study in the “International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry” supports that assessment. Consisting of interviews with 1,620 community-dwelling older adults, the study examined the following:
1) Overall life satisfaction with material circumstances and with social circumstances of older adults with no cognitive impairment, with cognitive impairment without dementia, and with dementia
2) The effect of cognition on life satisfaction across a broad spectrum of cognition
3) The effect of factors such as depressive symptoms, functional impairment, education, and social support.
While participants with dementia and participants with cognitive impairment without dementia did have lower life satisfaction than those with normal cognition, the effects were relatively small. The study concluded that, although cognition is associated with life satisfaction, older adults are generally satisfied with life.

Older adults with dementia have varied days like everyone else. Happy memories and enriching activities can slow dance into their realities and fill them with joy. This video titled “I Remember Better When I Paint: Treating Alzheimer’s Through Creative Arts” shows how creative arts activities can enhance the quality of their lives. A longer DVD version can be purchased at,,, and

Frances Shani Parker, Author


  1. Francis I think it is important to indicate that this 3 minute clip is taken from a longer and compelling film that is about an hour in length. It is available in both English and French, and can be ordered online for $25. (I don't have the web site handy, but I'm sure it can be found through google...)

    Cathy Greenblat

  2. Thanks, Cathy. I thought it was included at the end of the video, but it isn't. I have included websites on the main page. This is the information provided with the video on YouTube:

    Trailer to a documentary narrated by Olivia de Havilland about the many benefits of arts for people with Alzheimer's. DVD available from,, artistsfor and titled I REMEMBER BETTER WHEN I PAINT: TREATING ALZHEIMER'S THROUGH CREATIVE ARTS, produced by French Connection Films and the Hilgos Foundation.

  3. Thank you for this interesting post. After watching the video clip, we got a copy of the DVD "I Remember Better When I Paint" on amazon. Inspirational and worth sharing. Thank you.