Creative Expression of Grief in Adults with Dementia

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Sroka, Cassandra
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
An increasing number of older adults face the confusion and loss that accompanies neurocognitive disorders with diminishing capacity to communicate their distress. Agitated behaviors may originate in communication difficulties. Art therapy transcends verbal communication and has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of neurocognitive disorders. This study aimed to answer the question: Does participation in a grief art therapy group decrease the prevalence of agitated behaviors? The Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory Short Form (CMAI) was used to compare agitation level at various times in the study. Four grief-related directives were adapted for use with the population. Thematic qualitative data was gleaned from verbalizations and artwork produced in sessions and analyzed using a phenomenological approach. Some participants experienced a decrease in agitation at the post-test. These results support further research on the efficacy of art therapy with this population, grief expression and neurocognitive disorders.