Thesis Title

Artwork of Alzheimer's Disease Patients in an Institutional Setting

Graduation Date

Spring 1987

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Alzheimer’s disease patients suffer from a progressive and debilitating loss of mental and physical functioning. This paper is a presentation of the artwork produced by Alzheimer’s disease patients. The artwork of the patients varies in conjunc­tion with their particular behaviors and with the course of their disease. Few researchers have reported on the artwork of Alzheimer patients. Does the art expression of Alzheimer patients vary? To determine these variations, 37 works made by 14 institutionalized Alzheimer patients are discussed. The artwork is ordered according to the functioning levels of the patients. Results reveal that the course of the patients' artwork seems to parallel in reverse that of normal child development. The higher functioning patients represent personal symbols in creative paintings, while the lower functioning patients’ artwork is dominated by kinesthetic activity. Finally, the role of art therapy and effective approaches with Alzheimer patients are presented.