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Baycrest's ArtontheBrain partners with museums to deliver non-pharmacological approach to brain health for older adults
October 17, 2019 Through a partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, ArtontheBrain looks to gamify artwork and promote memory and social connection among older adults.

Baycrest’s ArtontheBrain, a web-based therapeutic intervention that uses visual art as a vehicle for mental stimulation and socialization, has partnered with a number of museums across North America to include world-renowned art exhibits in their program, which aims to address the problem of reduced access to meaningful recreation among older adults.

“With the number of older adults expected to more than double to 1.5 billion in 2050 worldwide, there is an urgent need to find new ways to help adults age well and at home, ensuring continued quality of life,” says Aviva Altschuler, Manager, Culture, Arts & Innovation at Baycrest and Co-Creator of ArtontheBrain. “This tool is unique because it is inclusive, it fosters self-agency among users and the interaction is driven by the capabilities of the user, not the technology.”

Scientifically validated by an international team of cognitive aging experts, the app uses a growing database of artwork provided by museum partners to engage users in a variety of activities derived from neuropsychological research. Through the categories of learn, play and mingle, these activities have shown to improve wellness measures including psychological wellbeing, health-related quality of life and attention.

“Being able to partner with museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario and tap into their repertoire of artwork gives the user unique access to content that they would otherwise have to travel to thousands of miles to see. This way the user is able to benefit from interacting with the art right at home,” added Altschuler.

According to a study from the Pew Research Centre, about one in three older adults already play games online every day. With this tool, the team behind ArtontheBrain aims to make technology a fun outlet that is also beneficial for brain health.

“Research shows that arts-based recreation has positive health outcomes, such as enhanced wellbeing and a reduced risk of dementia,” says Dr. Kelly Murphy, Psychologist at Baycrest and Co-Creator of ArtontheBrain. “The app is designed to have the same positive health impacts as face-to-face recreation programs currently available for older adults, while breaking down barriers such as lack of transportation, sensory loss and mobility issues. The outcome aims of this tool help promote aging well in place which can translate to measurable savings for the health economy.”

Artonthebrain aims to be a solution that healthcare professionals can ‘prescribe’ to patients, including those with cognitive decline, as a non-pharmacological intervention to promote brain health and wellness. The end user would benefit from the ability to build leisure capacity, stay connected, keep cognitively engaged and age well.
ArtontheBrain is poised to be the first consumer product of its kind to be validated in the marketplace. To learn more about ArtontheBrain, visit www.artonthebrain.org
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