Through the Frye Art Museum’s Creative Aging program, the always-free museum has been seeing the benefits of providing people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia with creative opportunities for self-expression. 

The lessons learned mirror the success of Creative Aging’s here:now, a free arts engagement program for adults living with dementia and their care partners. It not only helps people dealing with dementia feel less isolated, Knecht said it also provides caregivers respite. 

Frye board member Lee Burnside, who also works at the University of Washington School of Medicine in the Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, spent several years collecting data on the here:now program, publishing his report in March 2015 in “Dementia, The International Journal of Social Research and Practice.”

“I think the personal growth, I think, was something that was big,” he said, adding caregivers also responded positively. “There was relationship respite, that they got a break together from dementia.”

“Washington state was one of the states that was a little underprepared for that,” Burnside said.

The Creative Aging program will launch its Alzheimer’s Cafe at the Frye Cafe in November. These will take place the second Tuesday of each month, offering people with dementia, their care partners, friends and family the opportunity to first receive a guided tour of an art gallery before sitting down at the cafe for food, drink, music and fun. Tours begin at 2 p.m. in the rotunda, and the cafe portion 2:30-4 p.m. The first Alzheimer’s Cafe is Nov. 8.