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Art & Alzheimer's: Exploring the Benefits

April 21, 2016

Art & Alzheimer's: Exploring the Benefits
Managing challenging behaviors in a senior with Alzheimer’s disease isn’t easy. Some days will be good and you will feel in control of their well-being. And then there are the days that are filled with angry outbursts, irritation and communication problems. Remaining calm and patient can be tough.
Looking for creative ways to help reduce agitation and anxiety in a loved one who has Alzheimer’s is often the key. Art therapy might be a solution. It has been shown to reduce the occurrence of difficult behaviors in older adults with Alzheimer’s.
Benefits of Art Therapy for Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease
As the disease progresses, your loved one may lose their ability to communicate verbally with you. Instead of having a traditional conversation, you can speak to them through the creation of art. Even a senior with advanced Alzheimer’s can continue to express themselves creatively through nonverbal communication techniques. 
Creative outlets open up new opportunities for your aging loved one. Art therapy can not only help your parent communicate with you, but it may also reduce their symptoms. Others benefits include: 
  • Traditional communication methods, such as a phone call, are not always possible for someone with Alzheimer’s. Art therapy allows your loved one to make connections in a nonverbal way.
  • Creative outlets like painting and drawing provide your parent with a method for emotional release.
  • Art therapy helps seniors focus. Creative activity improves concentration by stimulating different areas of the brain. It’s effectively utilizing mental abilities that are still functioning well.
  • Increasing artistic activities helps you manage challenging behaviors. Both viewing and creating art have a calming effect on a senior with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • When you bring art to your loved one’s life, it creates an opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with them. You can also involve the rest of the family. Sharing an activity, like going to an art museum in Indiana, creates a safe environment that everyone should feel comfortable in.
  • Art therapy is the perfect activity for young family members to communicate with grandparent who has Alzheimer’s. It’s fun and beneficial for both generations.

Incorporating Art Therapy into Your Caregiver Responsibilities

Many senior living communities, such as Five Star in Indiana, offer art projects every day. Life enrichment team members plan specific activities to help manage behavioral symptoms among older adults with Alzheimer's disease.
If you don’t have access to these resources right now, there are many ways you can incorporate art therapy into your own routine at home. A few suggestions include: 
  • Buy a canvas and paint from a local craft store. Set up an open space in your home and allow your loved one to create a painting with their hands, brush or other tools. Encourage them to be creative.
  • Ensure that the tools you buy are non-toxic. Your parent may not know that paint isn’t safe to eat. Crayons, watercolors, and clay are all great options for your loved one.
  • Enroll in a local art class together. Try to find a class that is created for people with Alzheimer’s. This is a great way for you to bond with your parent. It also gives you an opportunity to meet fellow caregivers.
  • Make a scrapbook together using old family pictures. Viewing pictures can help your loved one recall favorite memories.
 An added benefit is that by helping a senior who lives with Alzheimer’s enjoy the process of creating, you also help to reduce the stress commonly created with caregiving.
To learn more about life enrichment in Indiana senior living communities, we extend an open invitation for you to visit the Five Star Senior Living community nearest you!