Art therapy helping those with dementia at Bupa Mosman

The healing power of art is real for those living with dementia at Bupa’s Aged Care home in Mosman after art-based cognitive therapist, Polina Gavria discovered its ability to stimulate the mind.

While the evidence within the home has been anecdotal, Polina Gavria said the art-based cognitive therapy sessions have helped residents to brush up on their creative and communication skills.

“Dementia creates challenges for how people understand what is being said to them, along with being able to express themselves to others,” Ms Gavria said.


Aphasia is a type of language deterioration that is common for those living with dementia, but you give the residents a brush and their artwork becomes a nonverbal form of expression.
Polina Gavria, art-based cognitive therapist at Bupa Aged Care Mosman

The art therapy classes being run throughout and beyond Dementia Awareness Month are designed to nourish minds and bodies while also equipping Bupa Mosman residents with techniques to help them cope better in their everyday lives.

“Sensory stimulation is big part of these sessions as we paint on a variety of mediums including paints, clay, paper and other objects from nature. As part of the art sessions, we also deliver short and succinct historical facts about the subjects while playing music from their youth in a bid to trigger positive memories,” she said.

Bupa’s Head of Dementia Services, Margaret Ryan said difficulties that arise from not being able to communicate properly can lead to depression and anxiety which is why art-based cognitive therapy is so important for those living with a cognitive impairment.

“There was a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease that showed art therapy as being beneficial for those living with dementia as it engages attention, provides pleasure, and improves neuropsychiatric symptoms, social behaviour and self-esteem,” Ms Ryan said.

“Social isolation accelerates cognitive decline in ageing people. The art-based cognitive therapy sessions at Mosman provide a positive space where residents living with dementia can laugh, be social and creatively bounce off each other,” she said.

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