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B Sharp: An arts engagement program

THE ISSUE In Colorado, 1 out of every 10 seniors has Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurological condition that aff ects memory, thinking and behavior. It is the most common form of dementia and the average lifespan for a person with the illness is eight years once symptoms become noticeable to others. Alzheimer’s disease has no cure and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the state.

A NEW PARTNERSHIP Banner Health is teaming up with the Fort Collins Symphony, Kaiser Permanente, Alzheimer’s Association, Larimer County Offi ce on Aging, Colorado State University and an area certifi ed dementia practitioner to create an arts engagement program designed specifically for people with dementia and their caregivers.

“It’s great to have things where she can be a normal person rather than a person with dementia.”

“The biggest benefit was that it was just so pleasant. So wonderful and soothing, calming and joyful.”


The B Sharp Program provides 30 people with dementia and a primary caregiver the opportunity to attend concerts with the Fort Collins Symphony. They are able to enjoy the music, engage with other community members and participate in a study aimed at measuring the impact of the concerts on their quality of life.

This is a unique offering in the community and serves as a catalyst for other dementia focused programs in Northern Colorado.

Arts engagement programs for individuals with dementia and their caregivers have been successfully implemented in other communities across the United States. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, N.Y., launched the MoMA Alzheimer’s Project in 2007 with funding provided by MetLife Foundation. The Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix works collaboratively with the Phoenix Symphony, Phoenix Art Museum and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art on an Arts Engagement Program with grant funding provided by the Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture.

Studies of both programs showed positive benefits to participants’ quality of life.


The goals of the B Sharp program are to:

• Improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers through participation in the arts

• Expand opportunities for social interaction for individuals with dementia and their caregivers

• Improve the relationship between caregivers and people with dementia through a regularly scheduled arts activity

• Increase feelings of social support and community connection among caregivers and individuals with dementia


Colorado State University is leading a study to measure the impact of the program on

various quality of life and social sustainability measures, including:

• Health outcomes for persons with dementia, including changes in cognitive function

• Changes in social connection between people with dementia and their caregivers

• Quality of interactions between individuals with dementia and their caregivers

• Feelings of social support and community connection for caregivers

Measurements are conducted using pre-and post-concert questionnaires, follow-up surveys, and periodic administration of cognitive assessment tools to program participants.


Dr. Jeni Cross, PI, Sociology

Dr. Deana Davalos, Co-PI, Psychology

Dr. Michael Thaut, Co-PI, Music, Theatre and Dance

India Luxton, GRA

To make a donation to the B Sharp Program: Contact Mary Kopco, Executive Director, Fort Collins Symphony, (970) 482-4823 or

Would you like to enroll in the B Sharp program? Contact Angel Hoff man at Angel.Hoff man@ or (970) 820-6872.


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