Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work

Degree Level



School of Social Work


Ferguson, Alishia

Committee Member/Reader

Freund, Joel

Committee Member/Second Reader

Rand, April

Committee Member/Third Reader

Stauss, Kim


The World Health Organization estimated that 47.5 million people across the globe were living with dementia in 2015, and this number is expected to increase and eventually double by 2030. The cost of caregiving for someone who has dementia is substantial, with estimated federal costs fluctuating between 157 billion and 215 billion dollars annually. Sixty percent of caregivers rate the emotional strain of caregiving to be “high to extremely high”, and 40% of caregivers are diagnosed with depression. It is therefore important to provide support not only for those persons with dementia, but also for their caregivers in order to reduce emotional distress. Art therapy has been recognized as a profession since the mid-1900s, and since then has been used with various populations, including older adults with dementia, in order to improve quality of life. The study in this thesis was designed to explore the effects that art therapy can have on older adults with dementia and their spousal caregivers after they complete a two-week therapeutic art group. We hypothesized that art therapy would improve communication satisfaction and overall marital satisfaction between the spouses. Unfortunately, the study could not be completed due to lack of participation, but improvements for future research were identified.