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How art, music and food can improve lives of people living with dementia

Event organiser Professor Victoria Tischler

People with dementia and their carers were special guests at a unique event about how art, music and food can improve the lives of people with the condition.

‘Stimulating all the senses: art, food, music and dementia’ took place at the University of West London’s (UWL) Ealing campus on Monday (20 November), showcasing a range of innovative ‘dementia-friendly’ approaches developed at the university’s Dementia Care Centre (DCC).

Around 65 guests from several care homes enjoyed meals which appeal to the senses of people with dementia and learnt about how tailored utensils such as specially designed cups, can encourage them to stay hydrated and get enough nourishment – which people with dementia may neglect to do.

UWL experts delivered talks on the power of music and art to benefit the lives of people with dementia and how to make hotels and restaurants dementia-friendly. Guests also enjoyed an exhibition of art works funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, along with a selection of objects on display from the university’s Heathrow Airport archive and the archive of Boots, the high street chemist. Artefacts such as old pieces of uniform, stationary and booklets helped stimulate meaningful discussions between guests with dementia who handled them with their carers.

A UWL staff member and a guest share a moment

Mirjana Zivanovic attended the event with her husband. She said: ‘We learnt many useful things, especially how to accept changes which happen as best you can. It’s not always easy, but one learns as one goes along. We would certainly recommend this to other people.’

Professor Victoria Tischler organised the event and is head of the DCC at UWL. She said: ‘Working with colleagues at UWL in music, archives and hospitality is an exciting opportunity to develop novel multisensory research that will lead to important discoveries which improve the lives of people living with dementia. Seeing our guests enjoying the multisensory activities was very rewarding and this event has been a valuable experience.’

Mirjana and Predrag Zivanovic in front of pictures at the event

Professor Anthony Woodman, UWL Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost for Health, said: ‘Our university is committed to making a real difference in the field of dementia care. Our research ethos is very simple - we want to generate useful knowledge, and this event has put on display the diverse skills of our academics who are making that happen.’

‘Stimulating all the senses: art, food, music and dementia’ was part of Being Human, a national festival about engaging people with humanities research, taking place 17-25 November.

Art on display at the event

Find out more about research on dementia care at the university