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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2021

Changing the Social Fabric: How Art and Social Design Can Contribute to Recognizing People with Dementia as an Essential Part of Vibrant Societies

From the book Arts & Dementia

  • Cornelia Bast


As the average age of our population rises, the number of people living with dementia does, too. This, of course, is changing our social fabric. However, this change presents us with an excellent opportunity to support people living with dementia and help them find their place in our modern, fast-paced and ever-demanding world. Indeed, it might even provide them with an added perspective, beyond consumerism and the need to compete with people who are not living with dementia. Many of us will know someone living with dementia, but who among us truly knows how it feels not to be able to trust our own senses anymore? Who among us truly knows what it means to switch between realities without realizing which of them our friends and families refer to as ‘normality’? This paper demonstrates that objects and processes developed by art-based research can be of value to people living with dementia, at all stages of the condition. It shows how, through the medium of interactive artistic acts, we can help people who do not live with dementia to better understand the problems of those that do by having them experience the same confusion, disorientation and insecurity they often feel. The first of our senses that we use as human beings is touch - and this remains intact throughout life, even in later stages of dementia, and activating the language of haptic expression can create empathy and stimulate communication. People living with dementia, and their surrounding environments, are changing society and we can have a clear influence on how this happens, especially through art and social design.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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