ORLANDO, Fla., June 20, 2019 — The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded AdventHealth and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts an $85,000 grant to support a groundbreaking study that evaluates how the performing arts impacts those with memory loss and their caregivers. The grant was one of just 15 grants totaling $724,000 the NEA awarded to support research projects that investigate the value and impact of the arts.
The local study, launched earlier this year, may enhance or even change the way the health care community treats anxiety disorders and other conditions associated with dementia in the aging population.
Led by veteran AdventHealth researchers and educators at the Dr. Phillips Center, the study follows memory-loss patients and their full-time caregivers through an eight-week, fun and interactive class incorporating theater games, movement exercises and performances.
The NEA grant will benefit both researchers and participants.
“Caregivers have unique burdens and stressors, and this grant will enable us to further our research in developing programs and interventions with the aim of reducing these factors and providing whole-person care,” said Dr. Steven Smith, chief scientific officer of the AdventHealth Research Institute. “We hope this research will result in expanded support and resources for caregivers, innovative treatment for people with memory disorders, and show how unique partnerships can be used to advance medicine and help our neighbors heal.”
The funds will help participants in areas such as transportation, as getting to and from the arts center can be a significant stressor for a caregiver.
Researchers have already discovered promising early results with the study. Classes have proven to be a source of needed social interaction, reconnection with loved ones and additional social support from fellow caregivers. Ninety-two people, or 46 pairs, participated in the first round of classes, and researchers are working to recruit 68 pairs for the next session, which begins in September.
“What’s exciting about this study is that it has the potential to improve communications and quality of life for people facing all kinds of health challenges,” said Dr. Phillips Center President and CEO Kathy Ramsberger. “Our hope is that it will serve as a road map for similar programs throughout our region, and spur arts centers and health systems in other cities to expand our collective work in the future.”
AdventHealth and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts launched an innovative partnership in 2014 to create a nationally-leading center of excellence for performing arts and wellness education. The AdventHealth School of the Arts at Dr. Phillips Center offers year-round classes, camps and educational workshops for all ages.
To learn more about joining the study, click here or call 407-303-7365.