Alzheimer’s disease robs people of so much: their cognitive health, their memories, and often their ability to communicate. The emotional side of this journey can be frustrating and isolating for the older adult. It is also difficult for the loved ones who struggle to find ways to comfort and care for them. Creative arts may be a way to help.
Art therapy has become a powerful tool for stimulating the brain, expressing emotions, and for re-connecting with long lost memories.
The Power of Art for Adults with Alzheimer’s
Adults who live with Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia can use the creative arts to express the emotions they can no longer use verbal skills to articulate. The very act of creating provides people with an opportunity to connect with their emotions and better understand what they are feeling and why.
Art can also be an avenue for calming the agitation and aggression that are common in people with dementia. Experts say art therapy works because it utilizes a different area of the brain than language skills draw from. This means people with Alzheimer’s and dementia are able to bypass damaged language centers and communicate in a different way.
People are also able to connect with their subconscious memories through art.
Neuroscientists believe subconscious memories, known as procedural memory, remain intact longer.
While art therapy can’t reverse the damage already caused by Alzheimer’s, experts hope to use what they’ve learned about its positive impact to find new ways to treat the disease.
Alzheimer’s & Art Therapy Resources
If you are a family caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease there are several ways you can learn more about art therapy and explore ways to bring the creative arts in to your loved one’s daily life.
- I’m Still Here: The I’m Still Here Foundation has a mission of helping those living with Alzheimer’s express themselves. They share resources, news, and publications to help people learn more.
- Daily Caring: This award-winning site for caregivers shares ideas to make it easier for caregivers to introduce art projects in to their loved one’s day.
- Pinterest: Another suggestion is to search Pinterest using the keywords “dementia art projects” and “Alzheimer’s art project.” You’ll find a variety of projects you can tackle together ranging from making pinecone trees to creating paper pumpkins.
Remember, you don’t have to be an artist to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s tackle a creative project. The sense of accomplishment completing even a simple art project provides to people living with Alzheimer’s can increase self-esteem and lift their spirit.
You will find residents in our Bridge to Rediscovery memory care programs engaged in art therapy projects almost every day. Call us to today to learn more!