Opening Minds through Art (OMA)is an award-winning, evidence-based, intergenerational artmaking program for people with dementia. It is designed to provide opportunities for creative self-expression and social engagement for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Developed in 2007 at Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center in Oxford, Ohio, the program is grounded in person-centered care principles.

OMA sessions are led by trained facilitators. Each elder is paired with a trained volunteer (college/high school student or community member) who provides guidance during the artmaking process but who makes no aesthetic decisions for the artist. Both the art-making process and the final artwork created remind staff and family members of the vital, creative person who still remains. OMA helps others to view people with dementia more positively. This new attitude in turn directly improves the quality of interaction with and care of people with dementia.

OMA has received recognition as one of the nation’s most innovative visual art programs for people with dementia:

  • Best Practice award from Leading Age Ohio (2011).
  • Selected to train artists and administrators by the Creative Center’s Creative Aging Training Institute in New York City annually since 2013.
  • Selected by the National Center for Creative Aging to be a part of the “Creative Caregiving Guide,” an online resource for caregivers of people with dementia (2015).
  • Received “Program of Distinction” award from Generations United (2015-17).
  • Received the Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Award in the Creative Expression category (2016).

 Objectives/goals of the program:

  1. To promote the social engagement, autonomy, and dignity of people with dementia by providing creative self-expression opportunities.
  2. To provide staff and volunteers with opportunities to build close relationships with people who are living with dementia
  3. To show the public the creative self-expression capacities of people with dementia through exhibitions of their artwork.
  4. To contribute to the scholarly literature of dementia care and the arts.

Altenheim received a grant $1,500 from the Scripps Gerontology Center of Miami University. In addition, three staff members attended a 3-day facilitator training program. Staff members then recruited high school volunteers. After completing an orientation program, a volunteer was paired with a resident. While it is the resident’s art, the one-on-one pairing established a close relationship between the resident and volunteer. Each art session lasts for about an hour.

If you are interested in making a gift to support the future of the program, go to on #GivingTuesday, November 27, 2018.  Your gift is tax deductible as allowed by law. Or support the Art Auction. On line bidding will be available from November 28 through December 9 ending at 2:00 p.m. You will be making a difference in the lives of the residents.

For more information on #GivingTuesday go to

For additional information on OMA, go to

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