Alzheimer's and the Arts

Professor Heidi E. Hamilton has spent her life in linguistics exploring the interrelationships between language and a variety of health care issues and contexts. Her early work on Alzheimer's disease, as most fully represented in her book Conversations with an Alzheimer's Patient: An Interactional Sociolinguistic Study (Cambridge University Press, 1994), is generally recognized as the first work in the area of language and Alzheimer's disease to depart from the clinical paradigm with its experimentally-elicited data to examine naturally occurring discourse within everyday interactional contexts.

She has recently become fascinated by the ways in which linguistic discourse analysis can illuminate the possible therapeutic effects of community-based arts programs for individuals with early Alzheimer’s disease. She has presented this work at the Communication in Institutionalized Elderly Care: Cross-Cultural Perspectives workshop in Tokyo, at the 2nd International Clinical Linguistics Conference in Madrid, at the Tenth Interdisciplinary Conference on Communication, Medicine & Ethics (COMET) in Trondheim, Norway, at the annual meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics in Dallas (with Marta Baffy), and as part of a workshop on Language and Aging at the Summer Institute of the Linguistic Society of America in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Publications of this work include:

Hamilton, Heidi E. and Baffy, Marta. forthcoming. Preparing for a theatrical performance:
Writing scripts and shaping identities in an early memory loss support group. In Robert W. Schrauf and Nicole Müller (eds.), Dialogue and dementia: Cognitive and communicative resources for engagement. Florence, KY: Psychology Press.

Hamilton, Heidi E. 2011. At the intersection of art, Alzheimer's disease, and discourse: Talk in the surround of paintings. In Peter Backhaus (ed.), Communication in Elderly Care: Cross-cultural Approaches. Continuum.