HomeBlogCultural mediation in dementia, an international approach

Cultural mediation in dementia, an international approach

In this post we talk about the generation of practices accessible to all mediators that facilitate bringing the cultural and artistic experience closer to people with dementia.

Dementia implies losses, sometimes also gains, but what is certain is that it implies changes. Many of these changes force us to reinvent ourselves, to adapt to the new situation, to a changing environment, to the lack of keys to solve problems that did not exist before... we are adaptive beings and we face the situations that occur throughout our life journey.

A natural adaptation strategy is to limit our space to what we feel we can control, making it smaller and more familiar, following the paths we know best and paying attention only to the conversations we feel we can contribute. Although we are constantly adapting without making a conscious effort, the environment often does not adapt with us, limiting us to a small and, although manageable, increasingly isolated space. This point of disconnection between our constant adaptation and the adaptation that the environment could put on its side becomes more evident with that which is not at the base of our needs, leaving out, in many occasions, the emotional, social and life experience aspects (as basic in the needs as any other). This is especially the case with cultural and artistic experience, which ends up being distant and inaccessible to people who develop dementia.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum has an important route focused on this "doing your part", this adaptation of the environment to bring the cultural experience closer to each person, through EducaThyssen considering culture not as a product but as a motor for social change. For this reason, at the Matia Foundation we contacted the Thyssen-Bornsemisza Museum to develop, together with other national and international entities, the European project Dementia in Cultural Mediation, financed by the European programme Erasmus+ in which four countries are participating: Denmark, Belgium, Holland and Spain in a consortium that brings together cultural, academic, associative and government entities.

The project is based on the idea that the use of culture and cultural activities can be a good approach to promote the social inclusion of people with dementia in their immediate environment. Cultural activities provide an excellent framework for the generation of social networks that have art, creativity and culture in common, increasing the joy of life and social inclusion for people who participate in these types of activities.

In the project we seek to create a space where the experiences of cultural mediators from different countries can be shared to learn about practices that allow them to bring the artistic experience closer to each person with dementia. The project began at the end of 2019 and through a series of meetings held, given the current situation of Pandemia, by videoconference, practices will be shared by learning from innovative approaches that may arise from other geographical environments and cultural contexts.

In June we had the first of these exchange meetings where varied and interesting practices were presented as they were: "Building Memory" and "Art with Sense" (Alberto Gamoneda, Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum) who, by collaborating with the person, build their own cultural experience, the "Choir of Memory" (Jesús María Andrea Reyes, from the Association of Relatives and Friends of People with Dementia in Galicia), "Poetry Slam" (Martin Anker Jensen, Odense Bibliotekerne), a poetic declamation in Danish that showed that one can transmit emotion beyond the understanding of language, "A box with stories" (Nadine Lemmers, Hunebedcentrum), "Through art we care" (Isabel Vermote, Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België) or "Meet me" (Greet Stappaerts, Middelheim Museum), to give some examples. The practices presented, although they varied greatly in their formats, objects, experiences and even in the professional profile of the cultural mediators and their objectives, coincided in bringing the cultural experience closer to people by taking into account their diversity, in identifying what is significant for each person, in seeking honest communication based on emotional expression and in the participation and inclusion of people with dementia themselves as agents and not merely recipients of the practice.

We hope to be able to generate a set of practices accessible to all mediators that will facilitate bringing the cultural and artistic experience closer to people with dementia, so that those of us who work in the cultural, academic and association fields will also play our part in this process of constant adaptation for the social inclusion of people living with dementia and their families.

Original entry published at EducaThyssen.


Researcher at Matia Instituto

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • You may use [block:module=delta] tags to display the contents of block delta for module module.
  • You may use [view:name=display=args] tags to display views.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.