NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- A new program at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington hopes to connect those suffering from Alzheimer's disease to their memories. The "Connections Program" is geared towards those who not only suffer from Alzheimer's disease but other forms of dementia. The idea behind it is to stir their senses and memories through art. Georgia Mastroineni is the museum education coordinator. She said, "What we're hoping is that instead of guided tours, it's going to be more of a conversation and an open dialogue. And what we hope is that through art that seeing it will bring up memories and be able to start a dialogue." The exhibit features costumes from the past, present and future. Many believe keeping those dealing with memory loss around the arts may slow the process. Mastroineni says this is the one time she can ask questions of the museum's visitors like, "Did you ever wear a dress like this? Where were you going -- so it will get them to talk about when they were younger." Ruth Finch is the recreation director at Davis Health Care Center. Both she and the patients she works with have high hopes for the exhibit. "We're hoping that it's going to be very positive memories, a very happy time in their lives, past romances, dates with husbands and family trips." A grant from the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation keeps the program free of charge. If all goes well the program will continue for another year. If you would like to find out more about the Cameron Art Museum "Connections Program" call (910) 395-5999. Reservations for guided tours are required at least two weeks in advance. The exhibit for dementia visitors opens every other Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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