Dementia and Alzheimer are becoming common words in our vocabulary. You may not have first hand experience in dealing with the ravages of this disease, but you may have a friend or neighbor that is trying to cope with an affected relative. The disease can turn the most brilliant mind into one that cannot remember what they did five minutes earlier or who they were in their previous lives. Coping is done on a day-to-day basis, since there are mood changes, emotional distress, agitation and even aggressive episodes. You never know which emotion, or how many, you may encounter on any given day.
It has been found that creative activity opens the emotional interiors of these patients. Painting is a non-verbal way to reach these patients and offer them the power of choices and decisions that they have lost in their daily lives. For those of us with a relative in a home setting, these art sessions can be accomplished with blank paper, coloring books, crayons, watercolors and allowing them time each day to relax and express themselves.
My Mom was an independent, happy woman, living alone a year ago, and is now a person requiring 24-hour care and lost in her own mind. My niece, Karina, an artist, brought her art supplies and brings her 8 year old daughter, Tiffany, to paint with her. My mom enjoys the family time, the creativity and my grand-niece calls it a “play date” with grandma. What could be better? Their creations are posted in her room as a reminder of what she created and what she is still capable of doing.
In some of the research I have done, I came across an international documentary. See write-up below:
"I Remember Better When I Paint is a 2009 feature length international documentary film about the positive impact of art and other creative therapies in people with Alzheimer's disease and how these approaches can change the way the disease is viewed by society. The film examines the way creative arts bypass the limitations of dementia disorders such as Alzheimer's and shows how patients' still-vibrant imaginations are strengthened "
Click here to view the trailer.
For now, we are caring for my Mom the best way we can, learning as we go and trying to find ways to bring a little normalcy into her new world.