Out of the many precious memories that Alzheimer’s and dementia steals from a person, artistic ability does not seem to be one of them. As an elderly person slides into old age, creative expression could be the key that unlocks what cognitive illness keeps hidden.
Art has the ability to open the mind, in any person, young or old. While vocal communication is one of the early losses in a person’s battle with dementia, art therapy may lead to creative communication.
While an Alzheimer’s patient may have many thoughts and concerns running through their mind, the ability to transmit those thoughts diminishes as the disease worsens. Art therapy is helpful for dementia patients because it enables the individual who is having trouble communicating to bypass the language problems they may be having and communicate and express themselves in a different way.
While these forms of therapy cannot cure a person’s dementia, they can offer substantial rewards that a person may not otherwise receive in such an impaired state. These come from personal accomplishments, the satisfaction of completion, and simply the joy of the artistic process. It allows their true self to be expressed when it otherwise can’t.
Here are two ideas on how to get your loved one started with art therapy:
1. Take your loved one to a local museum and let them look around.
Bring your loved one to the museum and sit them in front of a painting they like. Somehow, that painting says something to them, something about its scale, about the color, about the vibrancy of the picture. Somehow they begin a dialogue with the painting.
2. Try drawing or painting as an activity at home.
First, put down newspaper on a table for your loved one to go to work on. Set out paints or crayons or markers. Whatever they like. In time, they will begin creating their own masterpiece. Your loved one can take in color, form, shape and he or she can process that information in some way that is real, in the moment and it translates in an Alzheimer’s patients’ brain to have some meaning.
The creative arts are an avenue to tap into a non-verbal, emotional place in a person. When they’re given paints, markers, pastels or any kind of medium for art-making, and their hands and muscles are involved, things are tapped in them that are genuine, active and alive. So the creative arts bypass the limitations and they are simply seen as strengths. People suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia still have imaginations intact all the way to the very end of their progressive disease.
3. Paint for Fun program
The Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center realizes how important it is to keep people with dementia stimulated and active. For that reason, we have started the Paint for Fun program that’s designed to enable caregivers and their loved ones to REACH OUT beyond their day to day role of providing care and support to their loved one by allowing them to connect to others and RELAX in a social and fun environment.Working step by step, with our instructor, you can create your very own masterpiece. During the painting class, participants enjoy upbeat music, snacks, and refreshments in a fun and cheerful environment. When complete, all participants keep their painting as a souvenir.
To contact the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
So start your loved ones art gallery today! Send us pictures of your loved ones art activities on Facebook. For more information on this topic or to sign up for our next Paint for Fun class, call us at 877-760-9199. Thanks for watching this Therapeutic Thursday and we’ll see you again next month!