Art has a way of connecting people and communicating emotions. Many artists find that they are more able to share their feelings and life experiences through painting and other artistic endeavors.
For individuals challenged by dementia, art can often unlock emotions and memories that other forms of expression cannot. That is why exposure to art for those with dementia can be so therapeutic, giving the individual a sense of purpose when other activities fall short.
The Alzheimer’s Association has a unique program called Memories in the Making® geared to individuals with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. It is designed to bring comfort and joy through the art of watercolor painting. The program not only gives individuals with dementia an opportunity to experience and share the essence of who they are through art, it provides a unique way to raise money towards finding a cure for this devastating disease. In a nutshell, here’s how it works: The Alzheimer’s Association works with memory care communities, dispatching a professional artist to work with a select group of residents on a project. The art they produce (must be 100% the work of the individual) is judged by a panel and, if selected, will become part of their gallery exhibition, where it can be purchased, the proceeds of which go to local programs to fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Elle Fore, Life Engagement Director for Highline Place Memory Care in Littleton Colorado, had worked with the Memories in the Making program at another community. She knew she wanted to bring the program to residents at Highline Place. However, this is a popular program and there is a waitlist. It can take years before a community is accepted. But Elle was not to be deterred. She kept after it and even created a watercolor art program of her own, working with artistically inclined residents to create some wonderful artwork. So, when Elle got the call that Highline Place was selected to participate, she and her residents were more than ready.
That was about five years ago. Since 2015, over a dozen artists at Highline Place have had their artwork accepted for the gallery. Every year, the Alzheimer's Association hosts an Artist’s Tea, inviting the participating residents and their families to celebrate the artwork they have created. This year, the artwork of Highline Place resident Emily Warner (her photo is shown above) was selected by the Memories in Making committee for the gallery exhibition. Emily has an interesting history. In addition to being an inspiring artist, she has the distinction of being America’s first female commercial flight captain.
At Anthem Memory Care communities, we believe in the powerful therapeutic benefits of art. Our art sessions bring a sense of renewed purpose to our residents. We celebrate the joy art brings to our residents, their families and our staff. So we encourage all those who are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s to create simple art projects that you can enjoy together. It will be time well spent for both of you.