Museum of New Mexico

Collaborative program brings the arts to people with memory illnesses

February 16, 2015


The nationally acclaimed Alzheimer’s Poetry Project (APP) and a growing consortium of Santa Fe-based arts and cultural institutions are joining forces to help people living with memory loss, along with their care partners, friends and the public. Each month, the Community-in-Residence program will open the doors at a different institution for an hour-long session of creativity, playfulness and learning.

“The APP started in Santa Fe ten years ago and we have now held programs in 25 states and internationally in Australia, Germany, Poland and South Korea,” said Gary Glazner APP Founder and Executive Director. “We are excited to start this new Community-in-Residence program in partnership with many of Santa Fe’s wonderful cultural organizations.”

Community-in-Residence builds on the concept of an artist-in-residence program, which typically invites artists, poets, musicians, academicians, curators, and all manner of creative people to enjoy a time and space away from the usual environment and obligations. The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project has worked with various Santa Fe institutions over the last few years, including the New Mexico History Museum and the Lifesongs℠ program of the Academy for the Love of Learning.

The program launches on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 9 to 10 am, at the George O’Keeffe Museum, and moves to the Museum of International Folk Art on Tuesday, March 24, at 10:30 am. Future events will be announced soon. A highlight of the event will be the creation of a new poem set to music inspired by the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe. The series includes light refreshments and is free and open to the public with registration. For a reservation, please write

Participants include the Alzheimer’s Creativity Project; Alzheimer’s Poetry Project; Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; Lifesongs℠; Museum of International Folk Art; New Mexico History Museum and Vista Living. Sessions will use pieces of artwork to spark thoughts and memories from the participants, who will create music, poetry, stories and, sometimes, artwork of their own.

Community-in-Residence is in support of the New Mexico Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia State Plan, with the endorsement of the Office of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department, and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s and related dementia—a significant mental health issue that is rising in line with aging Baby Boomers and longer life spans. One in eight people over 65 and 50 percent of those over 85 have dementia. In the United States, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, an estimated 5.1 million people have Alzheimer’s, and this number could reach 16 million by 2050.

Direct and indirect costs of dementia are more than $148 billion annually. Alzheimer’s affects individuals of all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. The brain disorder not only affects those diagnosed, but also places an enormous psychological and financial burden on friends, family members and caregivers. Dementia caregivers experience greater health issues and increased mortality than people caring for loved ones with other diseases.

There is no cure or medication to delay, reverse or effectively treat Alzheimer’s. As such, we must develop more effective strategies to meet the unique needs of this rapidly increasing population and their caregivers. Research shows that the creative arts can help foster engagement, mental stimulation, conversation, self-esteem and self-expression, as well as cope with behavioral challenges and improve overall well-being.

Media contacts:

Gary Glazner, executive director, Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, (505) 577-2250,

Kate Nelson, Marketing Manager, New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors,                      

(505) 476-5019 and (505) 554-5722 (c),


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