Bringing Art to Life Research Presented at IAGG 2017

The Bringing Art to Life (BATL) Research Team presented an abstract titled “The Effects of an Intergenerational Service Learning Experience on Ageist Attitudes” highlighting outcomes data from University of Alabama Honors students enrolled in UH 300: Art to Life at the 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in San Francisco on July 25, 2017.

UH 300: Art to Life is an Honors service learning class offered at the University of Alabama as part of our foundation’s Bringing Art to Life (BATL) program. Students learn about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, participate in the Virtual Dementia Tour, volunteer at an adult dementia daycare center, participate in mindfulness activities, develop an appreciation for the challenges of caregiving, and learn the tenets of person-centered care. In the experiential part of the course, students are paired with persons living with dementia, and participate in weekly art therapy sessions facilitated by an experienced art therapist. Students develop relationships with their participants, learn their life stories, and create a leather-bound life legacy book using, presenting this to their participants and their families in a celebratory dinner at the end of the semester.

A research team from the Alabama Research Institute on Aging and the UA Department of Psychology led by Keisha Ivey, MA and Rebecca Allen, PhD has been conducting research since 2015, and the current abstract addresses student data from pre-and post surveys measuring empathy and attitudes toward older adults, persons living with dementia and community service.

Compared with student controls from a psychology of aging course, BATL students exhibited statistically significant improvement in attitudes towards persons living with dementia and toward community service, as well as greater increases in empathy.

Research will be ongoing, and will involve analysis of the program’s impact on participating persons living with dementia and their caregivers.

For more information on Bringing Art to Life, read this Huffington Post article by Angel C. Duncan, MA, MFT-ATR, the Executive Arts Director for Cognitive Dynamics who helped to create the program:

From left to right, Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, Dr. Rebecca Allen, and Dr. Daniel C. Potts at the 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics