Share this to:

Support & Insight for the Autumn of Life

Alzheimer’s, Art & Medical Students

Medical students often learn the technical facts of Alzheimer's without learning about the people. Find out how a new program helps medical students better understand people with dementia -- at the art museum.

With the growing number of people with Alzheimer’s disease, understanding their care is vital for doctors. Yet medical students often just learn the facts and may only see people with advanced disease who are at the hospital or nursing home. A study shows a new way to help medical students learn about the disease–at the art museum.

For the study, which was published in the July 29, 2015, online issue ofNeurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, 19 medical students attended a 90-minute museum art program designed for people with dementia and their caregivers.

The students, many of whom had little experience with people with Alzheimer’s, appreciated the experience. “It was very inspiring to see the way caregivers can work with their loved ones with dementia,” said one student. “Clearly, their disease has not changed their relationships. Many people with dementia are much more cognizant and competent than the average medical student or individual may think.”

Another student said, “It gave us a chance to interact with patients with dementia in a context when their dementia isn’t the main focus, when we get to see what they are capable of more so than what they are incapable of–which so often is what cognitive tests force a patient to do.”

The medical students took tests measuring their attitudes toward dementia before and after the museum visit. Overall, their scores increased from 97 to 106 on a test where scores can range from 20 for the least favorable attitude to 140 as the most favorable attitude. By comparison, in another study with medical students scores improved by 16 points after a four-week program.

“A day at the museum might be a wise prescription for helping students become compassionate doctors and giving them a better understanding of how patients and caregivers continue their relationships and quality of life despite their diagnosis,” said study author James M. Noble MD, MS, with Columbia University Medical Center in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, who conducted the study with medical student Hannah J. Roberts.



  1. M. D. Childress, D. T. Chen. Art and Alzheimer dementia: A museum experience for patients may benefit medical studentsNeurology, 2015; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001874
Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Noone believes me
Noone believes me
August 4, 2015 5:15 pm

As a person who lives with dementia it absolutely astounds me that as part of the course for these medical students that there is no knowledge or advice given by a real expert, a person living with dementia. Academics and books are not the real experts. They fail miserably in trying to explain what goes on inside our head. Surely if they are to learn about real life experiences, would it not be better coming from the source. Many people living with dementia are willing to give first hand and personal accounts of how they cope and live with dementia. Please contact Dementia Alliance International for speakers in your state. If you fail this you will set us back 30 years and the students in my opinion will have failed.

B. Berger

B. Berger

Visit Our Pages On:


This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chaffe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. With a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia appearing on the internet every 7 minutes, the site’s focus on the best information has been a help to many over the past 15 years. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor


A Grandchild for One Day Keeps Dementia Away
An intriguing study of 120 grandmothers might surprise you. Doctors know socially engaged people have better cognitio...
Who's That Singing? Why, It's Margaret!
When Jamie Lee Morley first heard singing from care-resident Margaret Mackie (she has dementia), he automatically ass...
Healing Gardens for Dementia
A new study reveals the power of gardens in helping staff provide good care for dementia. See how gardens offer benef...


Amazon Books
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
News to Get at the Truth

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Enjoy thought-provoking videos & articles
News to Get at the Truth

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter