Research

Using art in an intergenerational program to improve students' attitudes toward people with dementia.
Abstract:
This study explored the effects of participating in an intergenerational service learning program called Opening Mind through Arts (OMA) on college students’ attitudes toward people with dementia.
In this program, students were paired one-on-one with elders who have dementia to support the elders’ creation of visual art projects.  They met weekly for one semester. The Dementia Attitude Scale was
administered at the beginning and end of the semester to measure changes in students’ attitudes. The study included 156 students participating in OMA and assessed if their participation makes a difference in the degree of change in overall attitudes, knowledge, and comfort level toward people with dementia. Results revealed a significant improvement in students’ overall attitudes, comfort level, and attitude toward people with dementia. The results highlight the importance of intergenerational service learning in improving college students’ overall attitudes and increase their confidence and comfort  working with people with dementia.
Activities in dementia care: A comparative assessment of activity types.

Lokon, E., Sauer, P.E., & Li, Y. (2016).   Activities in dementia care: A comparative assessment of activity types. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice 0(0), 1-19
DOI: 10.1177/1471301216680890

Abstract:
This exploratory study compares the impact of five activity types on the well-being of institutionalized people with dementia (PWD): the intergenerational art program Opening Minds through Art (OMA), art and music therapies, creative activities, non-creative activities, and no activities at all. We validated the Scripps Modified Greater Cincinnati Chapter Well-Being Observational Tool (SM-GCCWOT), and used that instrument to systematically observe N=67 PWD as they participated in different activity types. PWD showed the highest well-being scores during OMA compared to all other activities. No significant well-being differences were found between creative activities led by licensed art/music therapist versus regular activity staff. Furthermore, no significant well-being differences were found between creative and non-creative activities that were both led by regular activity staff. Overall, PWD benefit from participating in activities, regardless of the type (creative or non-creative), or who conducts them (licensed therapists or activity staff). However, in order for PWD to reach significantly high levels of overall well-being, we recommend that activities are specifically designed for PWD and incorporate a 1:1 ratio between PWD and well-trained volunteers/staff members.

"It makes me feel like myself": Person-centered versus traditional visual arts activities for people with dementia.

Sauer, P. E., Fopma-Loy, J., Kinney, J. M., & Lokon, E. (2016). “It makes me feel like myself”: Person-centered versus traditional visual arts activities for people with dementia. Dementia, 15(5), pp. 895-912. doi: 10.1177/1471301214543958

Abstract: During a 15-month period between February 2010 and April 2011, video data on (n=38) people with dementia were collected during a person-centered and intergenerational arts activity
program called Opening Minds through Art (OMA) at three different long-term care facilities
in Ohio. A subsample of the OMA participants (n=10) were also video recorded during
traditional visual arts activities (e.g. coloring books, scrapbooking). A modified version of the
Greater Cincinnati Chapter Well-Being Observation Tool was used to code the intensity and
frequency of observed domains of well-being (i.e. social interest, engagement, and pleasure) and
ill-being (i.e. disengagement, negative affect, sadness, and confusion). Descriptive results indicate a
high percentage of moderate or high intensities of well-being during OMA sessions with little to
no ill-being. Paired-sample t-tests comparing OMA vs. traditional visual arts activities showed
significantly higher intensity scores for OMA in the domain of engagement and pleasure, as well as
significantly lower intensity scores for disengagement. The findings of this exploratory study
contribute to the overall discussion about the impact of person-centered, creative-expressive
arts activities on people with dementia.

Building Bridges across Age and Cognitive Barriers through Art: College Students' Reflections on an Intergenerational Program with Elders who Have Dementia.

Lokon, E., Kinney, J. M., & Kunkel, S. (2012). Building Bridges across Age and Cognitive Barriers through Art: College Students’ Reflections on an Intergenerational Program with Elders who Have Dementia. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 10(4), pp. 337-354. 

Abstract: The positive impact of intergenerational service learning experience on college students’ academic and personal development is well documented. However, it is not clear whether students engaged in such programs with elders who have dementia gain similar benefits. Qualitative analysis of 300 journals written by 59 students participating in the Opening Minds Through Art intergenerational art program for people with dementia revealed that facilitating the creative expressions of elders with dementia resulted in many positive gains for college students. The experience enhanced their academic learning, and they felt rewarded for making a difference in the lives of others. Their attitudes toward the elders became more positive, and they were able to build genuine and reciprocal relationships with the elders. In the students’ eyes, the elders were artists, teachers, and friends. Further research is needed to analyze the impact of such an intergenerational art program from the perspective of the elders.

The impact of Gerontology Course and a Service Learning Program on College Student's Attitudes toward People with Dementia.

Yamashita, T., Kinney, J.M., Lokon, E. (2011). The impact of a Gerontology Course and a Service Learning Program on College Student’s Attitudes toward People with Dementia. Journal of Applied Gerontology. doi: 10.1177/0733464811405198.

Abstract: We examined the effects of a gerontology course and an intergenerational servicelearning
project for people with dementia (PWD) on three dimensions of students’ attitudes including attitudes toward older people, community service for older people, and working with PWD. Data consisted of a combination of pretest/posttest survey and review of journals that students maintained during the service-learning project. Results indicated that students who completed the gerontology course, and those who completed both the course and the service-learning project, reported significantly more positive attitudes toward older adults, whereas students in the course only had significantly less positive attitudes about working with PWD, and those in the other courses (sociology) showed no change in their attitudes. Students’ journals are replete with reports of the satisfaction they derived from their experiences. The findings highlight opportunities and challenges that should be considered in future intergenerational service-learning programs and gerontological education.