Ann Arbor, Michigan
“Retaining Identity: Exploring the Role of Creativity in Healthcare” is the motto for the Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts community engagement course offered through the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design. This intergenerational program benefits university students and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (through the Silver Club Memory Programs) and their caregiver(s). Paired one-to-one, participants meet weekly over 13-weeks to engage in dance, music, writing, visual art exercises, and more. Students from multiple disciplines (social work, medicine, gerontology, public health, art, and design) engage in an interdisciplinary course on aging, dementia, and the role of art in health education. Silver Club members are able to enjoy a structured opportunity for camaraderie with peers, keeping their mind and body active, and the opportunity to teach students how to cope with life’s challenges. In turn, the students enjoy teaching their elder partners to explore creatively. Family caregivers report that the program has increased communication with their family member and has helped improve their family member’s sense of self-worth.