Draw. Visit an art museum. Pull out your palette of paints. Sketch. Peruse an art history book.
Studies conducted on art programs for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers show that creating your own art or viewing the work of others is beneficial to both! Let me share some of the research with you and then give you some simple ideas on what you can do to bring art and joy back into the life of the person you love.
Memories in the Making is a powerful art program in which individuals with memory loss demonstrated sustained attention, pleasure, enhanced self-esteem and feelings of normalcy. One participant remarked, “In here, I feel like a person again”.
The New York’s Museum of Modern Arts’, Meet Me Program makes art accessible to people with dementia and their caregivers, offering an expressive outlet and forum for dialogue about the art. Dr. Mary Mittleman, Director of Psychosocial Research and Support Programs at the Center for Excellence for Brain Aging and Dementia at New York University, reported on findings from studying the Meet Me Program – both caregivers and individuals with Alzheimer’s showed significant improvement in mood and enhanced self-worth after participating in the program.
You don’t have to replicate these programs on your own. Here are some simple ways to make and interact with the arts:
- Research a specialized support group focusing on the arts, for both caregivers and individuals living with the disease.
- Many local art museums have specialized program for individuals with memory impairment. If you can’t find one, use the Meet Me art modules at home or just visit your own local museum with your loved one with memory loss and peruse the art yourselves.
- Go to the library and get art history books. View them together and discuss what you see.
- Buy some art supplies: sketch book, paints and color pencils. Doodle and draw together.
- Locate a Memories in the Making program near you.
- Together, make a collage of photos and mementos of your loved one through the years.
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it together!