The Art of Conversation Tool

The Art of Conversation Tool is a tool designed to assist caregivers in communicating with individuals with dementia. Each of the 50 cards contains an image with accompanying questions. These cards are to be used as inspiration to share stories, ideas, and opinions.

The Art of Conversation was designed by Christina Muscatello, Ed.M Co-founder and Program Director the Memory Maker Project (https://www.memorymakerproject.org)

“This is what I was talking about….we need more of this. We shouldn’t be coloring in the lines. This pulls from the mind and gets the hands moving.”— G, Art Workshop Participant

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The Memory Maker Project provides art, culture, and advocacy programs for people living with memory loss and their care partners.

We envision a world where people living with memory loss, you are doing just that; living.

We achieve this by disrupting stereotypes surrounding memory loss, changing the conversation from deficit to strengths-based.

Art of Conversation Tool

MEMORY MAKER STORY & METHODS – Art of Conversation Tool

Art of Conversation Tool

“What does the fall time remind you of?” a man living with memory loss was asked. He had trouble finding his words, but was gently encouraged to keep going.

“Diversity of the leaves….like diversity of people.” Later, he was asked about his painting. He gestured to the veins in his hand, then to the veins in the leaf. “We’re all the same,” he said.

Everyone is, or will be, affected by memory loss in some way, whether you are helping a loved one, supporting a friend, or navigating it on your own.

While Alzheimer’s is one of the leading causes of death for older adults in the United States, it is both possible and common to live for 10-20 years after a diagnosis. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other dementias, but there are ways to continue to lead a fulfilling life.

Meaningful engagement in the arts reduces anxiety, depression, and apathy—all symptoms associated with memory loss—while increasing confidence and the quality of a person’s life. What’s more, the arts act as a backdoor entry to past memories and can inspire new ones.

The Memory Maker Project was originally created in 2014 by Christina Muscatello, an art educator with more than a decade of experience working with people who have Alzheimer’s, and Kim Evanoski, a dementia certified social worker and owner of Care Manage for All. They realized that in our current culture, after a diagnosis of memory loss, the doors remain open to doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and home, while the doors to movie theaters, museums, galleries, and theaters gradually shut.

Christina and Kim started the Memory Maker Project to open those doors up and make art and cultural programs accessible to people living with memory loss.

Today, the Memory Maker Project brings joy into participants’ lives through respectful interactions, threading conversations between the arts and their personal stories. We meet people where they are—we don’t see a patient or a disease; we see a vibrant person with as much to offer us as we can offer them.

We use a combination of ideas from experts in education, neurology, psychology and sociology to develop simple, interactive and meaningful artistic experiences for our friends, family and neighbors living with memory loss.

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