Their husbands, who have Alzheimer's disease, are becoming more distant, their marriages more solitary and fraught with worry.
But in a discussion of a painting called The Immigrants, those husbands --
The two men, whose wives had met through their mutual experience as caregivers, found the story in the brushstrokes and shared their thoughts about the discovery.
That a 1923 painting by
The year-old ARTZ Philadelphia is a branch of ARTZ: Artists for Alzheimer's, a national organization based in
ARTZ Philadelphia is offering tours, arts activities, training, and research.
Two years ago, Shifrin, of Plowville,
"They would arrive somewhat disoriented and anxious, but within 10 minutes of sitting in front of a painting, they were themselves," Shifrin said. "They were laughing, making observations. They were having real conversations."
When Shifrin left
The group began offering monthly tours at the Woodmere earlier this year. Other tours are being planned at the
The program will work with the
Studies on art therapy and its effects on patients with dementia indicate that patients experience a sense of well-being and seem more engaged when they are participating. But the investigations do not meet rigorous scientific standards, said
For instance, scientists do not know if those effects are specific to art therapy, Chatterjee said.
To help find out, Chatterjee is working on research with ARTZ Philadelphia and the Penn Memory Center that aims to study the effects of art therapy on people in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
The Penn Memory Center studies and treats patients 65 and older who are experiencing progressive memory loss and changes in thinking, communication, and personality.
"It shows that [people with Alzheimer's] can access memory. They can interact," Gelo said. "It shows the person with dementia fully as a human being," she said.
The medical school is collaborating with ARTZ Philadelphia to help doctors studying family medicine understand patients with dementia. The residents visit Woodmere to observe Shifrin leading a tour.
Inside the museum, officials are responsible for ensuring that families and residents from care facilities feel at ease, said
The art can inspire people with dementia and their caregivers, Tow said. The caregivers see a loved one reacting in an animated, responsive way that might have been rare since the onset of the disease.
That happened recently when
The two watched and joined in the discussion among a group of eight as their husbands talked about Bernstein's work.
"My husband opened up in ways that surprised me, and I think it surprised him as well,"
After the exhibit, the two couples ate lunch at a restaurant in
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